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Hoping to make a bigger impact for local business and jobs, the chamber of commerce told Coulee Dam leaders last week of its more ambitious plans for marketing the area in 2014.

Peggy Nevsimal, the manager of the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber wants to buy more advertising on the west side of the state to market the area, but it takes a lot of money.

Coulee Dam, like Electric City and Grand Coulee, collects hotel/motel taxes on every room rented in the town, the funds from which must be used to promote tourism.

Those rooms, taken into an average with the rest of those in the market area, go empty about 20 percent of the time in the summer and 70 percent in the winter, she said.

“We have a real need for economic growth in our area,” she said. “We look at that hotel/motel money and we think of it as economic fertilizer. … While it is an expense, it is also a revenue generator for the future.”

Nevsimal said the chamber is hoping to roughly double its spending on advertising the area, with most of that increase going to the west side of the state.

Columbia River Inn owner Mike Bradley supported that initiative.

“It doesn’t really do a lot of good … to spend a lot of money on things that are happening here, if nobody knows about it but the people that are here,” he said.

Increasing the advertising budget for the west side would help the whole community, he said, noting that he doesn’t object to putting on festivals if they are properly advertised.

The town takes in around $40,000 a year in the tax, but the chamber isn’t the only organization wanting to use it.

At the same meeting, The Ridge Riders asked for $10,000 to support its growing organization, which also brings in tourists and is working to do more. And Coulee Area Park and Recreation District is hoping to get $9,000 from each of the towns’ hotel/motel funds to help support North Dam Park and Event Center in a year when some federal grants won’t be coming.

Councilmember Ben Alling noted that current requests total more than the town’s annual fund income, and don’t include the $9,000 the town spent last year for music during the July 4 festival.

Mayor Quincy Snow said it might be a good thing if some of the funds were put in the chamber’s charge and assigned from from there.

“I think it would be good if the chamber could just handle it all,” he said.

Nevsimal has approached all three towns in a bid to increase the area marketing budget. Together, they take in about $128,000 a year. Chamber wants to increase its hotel/motel spending to about $62,000.

 

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