Monday, April 20, 2009

Local Economy Continues To Crater--UE Up To 17%

Quick post of the harsh numbers that just came out:

Bend MSA
Unemployment, unadjusted, March, 2009: 17%
Unemployment, unadjusted, March, 2008: 7.8%

Deschutes County:
Notices of Default, year to date through April 17th, 2009: 1037

Notices of Default, year to date through April 17th, 2008: 395

Notices of Default, all of 2007: 590

More later.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Response From Visit Bend

From Doug LaPlaca, CEO of Visit Bend:

Hi Bruce. Thank you for your thorough blog posting on Visit Bend’s proposed funding policy for the promotion of tourism. The posting was very well written and I had a couple of additional notes to help with your understanding of the issue.

First, your comment that the City has no responsibility to make up shortfalls in the tourism fund is absolutely correct. The shortfalls encountered in the Tourism Fund over the past two years were “made up”/reimbursed by the following year’s tourism fund, and thereby reducing the amount of money allocated to the promotion of tourism the following year. I certainly would not support allocating more than 30% of TRT collections to the promotion of tourism. The proposed funding proposal will eliminate shortfalls in the tourism fund altogether because the City will no longer be carrying the risk of fluctuations within the tourism fund. That will now be the onus of Visit Bend.

Second, your comment that event operators in Bend will now have to go “glad-handing” to Visit Bend to receive event funding is also correct, and I would like to convince you that this would be a good improvement. As a resident of Bend, I’m sure you are aware of the high number of special events in our community. Funding all of these events with tourism fund dollars would not create the maximum return on the reinvestment of the 30% for the community. The purpose of the tourism fund is not ambiguous. We need to reinvest those dollars into the promotion of tourism in a way that it will have the most beneficial return-on-investment for our community and economy. This is where Visit Bend comes in. We have over 60 years of combined experience in economic development through tourism. We hold our responsibility to the community of Bend in the highest regard and devote 100% of our energies to doing our jobs better than anyone else in the industry. We are residents of Bend, we love our City and our mission is to bring money to the businesses of Bend by bringing tourists to the City. Every decision we make is based on this mission.

Third, the debt repayment for the previous welcome center (now the ODOT building) is behind us. The final payment was made this past December so those payments will no longer be deducted from the tourism fund.

I hope this helps your understanding of the issue and I would be delighted to talk to you further about it. This kind of dialogue is very healthy and there remains a tremendous amount of misinformation in the community regarding tourism promotion. If you are interested in tourism, I would also be happy to share our Strategic Plan with you that we will be presenting to the City on April 14. We have several very exciting and impactful programs in place that will have a very positive impact on our economy.

Note: from followup email
One final clarification regarding your posting; in the proposed funding policy, Visit Bend would still pay the City's audit and overhead expenses associated with the tourism fund. This amount is approximately $25,000 per year (same as years past).

The basic premise of our proposal is 1) to eliminate "shortfalls" in the tourism fund altogether, thereby eliminating the tourism fund's dependence on short term loans from the General Fund. That's what has been happening and, as a citizen of Bend, I want this to end. 2) to entrust and empower Visit Bend with the full 30% of the tourism fund to maximize the impact of tourism promotion for Bend's economy. Visit Bend is the contracted specialist in this arena and we want to be held accountable. If the community does not think we are not excelling in our mission, I would certainly step down.

Again, I invite further discussion on this issue. I believe in this proposal and believe it is in the best interest of our community.
End of followup

Thanks again for engaging in the issue!

All the best,


Doug La Placa
Visit Bend


My response:

On most points I agree. Just wanted to clarify everything. It makes sense to fund Visit Bend with actual revenues after they are collected, although the cash flow and budgeting issues may be harder to overcome.

Who will fund motel audits? That was a separate item in the 08/09 budget memo from Sonia. Not much but a random audit of some is necessary.

I agree that giving one accountable organization the job and letting them do it is a good idea.