|07-31-03: Search begins for new tourism exec
|Auglaize and Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau
By NANCY ALLEN
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
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,
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."
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