After 40 years of promoting tourism, the Breckenridge Resort Chamber is bracing for radical change.
At the Oct. 8 Breckenridge Town Council work session, Breckenridge Resort Chamber/GoBreck president John McMahon and board of directors president Andru Ziest presented a restructuring idea for their organization. The BRC is in charge of marketing efforts for the town.
This plan included the elimination of membership dues, effectively allowing all businesses in town to become part of the BRC. The proposed plan also outlined ways to decrease overlap with other committees, and a new structure for the board of directors. This includes getting rid of BMAC, the town’s marketing advisory committee.
“We were given direction from council to look at our business model in a different light,” McMahon said.
With these changes, the current BRC board of directors would have to be dissolved due to legal issues — changing the structure of the organization requires altering the bylaws and articles of incorporation. There are currently 11 board members representing different businesses in the community.
“After we rewrite the bylaws, at the end of that, this board would have to resign in hopes they would be brought onto the new board,” McMahon said. “For legal reasons, it’s the cleanest way to do that.”
In the past, paying members of the BRC would elect the board members at an annual meeting. But because not all businesses in town are members of the BRC, the proposed changes would also alter the board election process, incorporating the idea that all Business and Occupational Licenses and Tax (BOLT) holders would be members.
“The restructure is really about governance — the board of directors and the committees,” McMahon said. “It has nothing to do with our own staff.”
The proposed plan would allocate one board seat to a town council member and one seat to a representative from the ski resort. Four seats would be given to BOLT holders, and the remaining three may or may not be BOLT holders. The Breckenridge Town Council would chose five of those nine seats — the ski representative, its own representative, and the three additional members. BRC members — who all would effectively now be BOLT holders — would choose the four designated BOLT seats. The council said this structure was close to how the board of The Summit Foundation is selected.
“I support bringing all BOLT holders into the fold,” Councilman Ben Brewer said. “That board structure you just described is very complex. It’s important for me as we go forward on this adventure we’re embarking on that when things need to get tweaked, they get tweaked.”
At the regular evening meeting, citizens and BRC ambassadors expressed concerns about the restructure, requesting that the current BRC membership be able to vote on the proposed changes. According to the BRC website, ambassadors “assist the BRC in its objectives to welcome new members, assist in regular retention calls, recognize substantial accomplishments within the community, be the official host to large groups visiting Breckenridge and assist in obtaining new members during the membership drives.”
“It shows the business community has no say in what happens to them,” Cindy Love said.
She argued board members should also be elected in different categories, such as retail, lodging or restaurants.
“The intent is to have proper representation and use the nominating committee’s expertise to strike that balance,” Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said.
A designated nominating committee would be in charge of recommending names for those potential board members. It was not yet decided how the nominating committee would be chosen in the first place.
Councilwoman Jennifer McAtamney said she supported bringing in all BOLT holders and better chances for small businesses to be successful.
“It takes a lot of courage to open up your mind to a change of this magnitude,” she said. “It’s a lot of work and it won’t be fun or easy, but the outcome will be a stronger organization and a stronger town.”
The current board unanimously agreed to move forward with this plan, meaning it would have to dissolve; members could be reelected after the changes, which will might begin as soon as December.
“It takes a lot of courage to see the vision 10 or 20 steps down the road and say, ‘I will step down in hopes of still serving this organization,’” Ziest said.
The BRC restructure plan would also create a business membership committee. Those business services would include overseeing communications, newsletters, holding mixers and other networking events for businesses, as well as training. Currently, 70 percent of the BRC funding comes from the town.
“At the end of the day the goal is get everyone in the community involved and we’ll get more membership benefit out of it,” McMahon said. “The town recognized that we’ve been doing business the same way for 40 years and it was time for a change.”
McMahon said the benefits of the restructure include a more inclusive community, elimination of the “member” and “non-member” issues, better support and communication to businesses and allowing Breckenridge to become more competitive.
“It’s not like the BRC is broken,” Mayor John Warner said. “We just want to streamline and address inclusivity.”