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City, central W.Va. visitors bureaus to team up

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau wants to team up with another area bureau to make it easier to give money for events in Kanawha County.

Members of the Charleston bureau's board agreed Wednesday to pursue a mutual grant program with the Central West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau. The grant program would combine the two bureaus' budgets for events in Kanawha County.

Under the grant program, the Central West Virginia bureau would contribute $108,000, and the Charleston bureau would contribute $100,000.

The joint program could keep local groups from hitting up both bureaus for funds and getting offended when they don't get the money, said John Robertson, head of the Charleston CVB finance committee.

"We have some groups that feel an entitlement," said Robertson, general manager of the Charleston Civic Center.

The Central West Virginia bureau would administer the grants, and the Charleston bureau would educate applicants about the new process -- which should benefit everyone, said Alisa Bailey, president of the Charleston CVB.

Also Wednesday, Bailey outlined the bureau's goals for the fiscal year, which began July 1. Part of the bureau's plan is to redesign its website, and the bureau has put out a request for proposals for the project.

"Our whole strategy is going to be based on this website rehabilitation," Bailey said.

Bailey said the number of unique visitors to the website in May and June hovered under 8,000. She called that "abysmal."

"This has got to go way up," she said.

The bureau will try to send people to the site through public relations efforts, Bailey said, including aggressive use of social media.

Board members also discussed the Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday. Now that the bureau has scrapped the name "Adventure Town" for promoting Charleston to the Boy Scouts, the focus is on billing the city as the "gateway to the Jamboree." 

Bailey said the plan is to see how the first year goes and then assess from there.

"I don't think anybody, even the Boy Scouts, knows exactly what this is going to look like," she said.

On Wednesday, the bureau's board said the logistics committee needs to look into where to park the more than 100 motor coaches the Scouts are expected to bring. There was also concern about getting that caravan onto the interstate to drive from Charleston to Fayetteville.

The bureau is also closing in on hiring two more employees: a director of sales and a public relations manager. Bailey said the bureau should know about the first position by the end of the week and has narrowed the search for the second position down to five candidates.

Reach Alison Matas at alison.matas@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.

 


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