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The Daily



07-31-03: Search begins for new tourism exec
Auglaize and Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Daily Standard
    Vicki Waterman, executive director of the Auglaize & Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) for the past 8 1/2 years, has resigned, saying it is time to move on.
    She submitted her resignation Monday afternoon to the CVB executive committee, said committee president Larry Stelzer, who added that a search for a new director already has begun.
    Waterman this morning said she had been considering the move for the last year or so to seek a career change.
    "It's just time to move on," Waterman said today. "I've been here 8 1/2 years and I think it's time. I just want to take my time and take the experience I've gained from being with the CVB and hopefully transition into another job."
    Waterman, who lives in Celina, said she would like to stay in the Grand Lake St. Marys region, but may take a job outside the area if one presents itself.
    A classified advertisement placed in local newspapers says the new CVB executive director should be a self starter, creative, possess interpersonal skills and would be responsible for marketing the two-county area. Any candidate must live in Auglaize or Mercer county, Stelzer said.
    The CVB was created about 15 years ago with money appropriated by Auglaize and Mercer county commissioners to promote tourism in both counties. The first CVB office operated with a part-time director from the Celina-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce office in Celina and around 1992 moved to a location on Front Street in St. Marys. It occupied a second building on Front Street for about 11 months before it moved in 1999 to a new office on Edgewater Drive in Auglaize County near Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Campground.
    It is the only two-county CVB in the state and the only one which operates under an arrangement where it leases the land the CVB office is located on from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The CVB owns the building.
    Waterman said her proudest accomplishment as executive director was helping make the CVB office a reality, an act which took the cooperation of many people, she said.
    The single most important act that enabled the CVB to grow was the collection of a lodging tax that began in 1993 and serves at the main source of funding for the agency, Waterman said. The tax comes from local hotels, motels and other locations that provide lodging.
    As the CVB's presence and reach has grown, so will the importance of tourism, Waterman said this morning.
    "I think tourism will only continue to grow in importance for the area. I think it's been a trend nationwide that tourism becomes a major part of many areas' economies as heavy industrial has reduced," she said. "Tourism is still one of the best forms of economic development."
    Waterman said she hopes CVB officials continue work to promote the area as a year-round tourism destination, adding that recent rental villas, apartments and houses built on West Bank Road along the lake  in Celina should help.
    According to CVB statistics, visitors coming to the Mercer and Auglaize county area had a $315 million dollar impact on the local economy in the nine years the bureau has been collecting the lodging tax. The bureau uses a formula based on room rentals to estimate that $39 million dollars came to the bi-county area in 2002 as the result of tourism.
    "I encourage people to understand what we have as an area and perhaps look at it in a different way and be grateful for what we have in the lake and other areas," Waterman said. "The lake's recreational activities are what people are looking for for leisure."


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822