Dillon eyes marketing budget, what events work
Summit Daily News
Dillon is considering upping its marketing budget for 2012, a move that pleases the Dillon Business Association but also begs the question of which events are working for the town.
The proposed increase, a 9.4 percent upgrade to $370,461 for 2012 versus $338,781 for 2011, would mostly go toward marketing the town for economic development, Dillon treasurer Carri McDonnell said. The DBA recently implored Dillon town council to up its marketing efforts, saying increased exposure will energize the town and draw more people to scheduled events, thus increasing business. Next year’s budget expansion for economic development was always the plan, but the support of the DBA helped those efforts, McDonnell said.
Extra funds would be used for the implementation of creative development, like improving the town website to market development opportunities. At Tuesday’s worksession, town manager Devin Granbery said work would be done by both in-house staff and outside consultants, although “outside firms are not cheap.”
“We need to figure out what the town brand is,” marketing director Susan Fairweather told the council. “What we’re talking about is an allure message.”
The DBA would really be interested in helping, business association president Bill Falcone told council and staff. “It’s a great use of money and will really come back to the town over and over again.”
The preliminary budget is being presented to council Oct. 4. There will be a public hearing at the Nov. 1 council meeting, and a final vote Dec. 6.
Figuring out the winners and the losers
The marketing budget discussion Tuesday prompted town council and staff to start examining which events are working, and which ones aren’t.
In 2011, Dillon spent $121,000 on 131 scheduled events, a figure which does not include staff salaries.
Mayor Ron Holland said he subscribes to the philosophy of not spending money on an event unless there’s a return. The annual barbecue – a Rotary Club of Summit County fundraiser – draws mixed reviews from businesses; some aren’t happy, and the event costs the town “a lot.” The 2011 estimated BBQ cost is $26,251, with a large portion of that going to staff time.
Other events just don’t do anything for “heads and beds.”
“We’re spending a lot of money on things that are not bringing money back into the Town of Dillon,” he said.
On the other hand, the Summit of Bluegrass and Blues was a huge success for its first year. That’s not typical for a first-time event, and may bode well for its future. The town needs to make sure it’s ready for the event’s expansion, Holland said.
Evaluating the economic impact of an event is hard, Granbery said. The town might know through sales tax that a certain business is up for a month, but they don’t know if a certain weekend brought the increased business. A survey for businesses – handed out later this year – helps the town figure out issues owners might have with certain events. The DBA perspective also gives council and staff more information than they might have had, Granbery said.
Even with the business survey, the impact is hard to quantify, Councilmember Jason Smith said.
“If these events weren’t here, then it would be the post office bringing people in,” he said. The town hears the negative, but doesn’t always hear the positive. There are times during event season when Smith drives through the Dillon Ridge Market Place parking lot and finds businesses like City Market and Nozawa completely packed.
“I think we need to continue to create different events to bring people in,” Smith said.
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