VCTC Meeting recap – Nicole Barde

SUMMARY OF THE MAY11, 2017 VCTC MEETING

ALL OF THE NEW HOTELS AT TRI MEANS MONEY, MONEY, MONEY FOR VCTC… BUT A STRATEGY AIMED AT INVOLVING TRI AND ITS EMPLOYEES AND BUSINESS TRAVELERS IN STOREY COUNTY ACTIVITIES STILL NEEDS TO BE DEVELOPED.

THE GOLD HILL HOTEL AND RESTAURANT WILL BE HAVING ITS FREE GRAND OPENING ON JUNE 9THBUT THE BEST PART IS THAT THEY WILL BE BRINGING SQUEEK STEELE BACK!!!!

By Nicole Barde

Bardeblog.com

You can find the agenda for the meeting and supporting materials HERE.

During the Public Comment at the beginning of the meeting VCTC Board member, County Commissioner, brothel owner and TRI principal Lance Gilman took the opportunity to update meeting attendees on some TRI news. Specifically that there are going to be 6 more hotels locating at the park and that this will be an increased source of revenues for the VCTC thru the increased room taxes. He further stated that this increased room tax revenue will change the dynamics of the VCTC and the Board.

Lance said that with Tesla, Switch and now Google that there are thousands of jobs that have already been created as a result of both construction and regular employees and while that level of employment is historic for Storey county and the region that it is also creating significant traffic issues in the park which are being dealt with. He said that there were significant land purchases being made in the Fernley and Silver Springs areas and they can expect traffic issues there as well. Additionally, he said that Wells Fargo has 500 pre-approved loans for housing and that Tesla is buying up housing in the mid-town area for their employees as temporary housing.

Lance and the board also discussed how VCTC can reach out to the businesses and their employees to get them involved in and participating in Storey County activities. While the businesses themselves are located at TRI and Storey County, the employees live in and identify with Reno/Sparks and other areas.

The TRI companies will need to become part of a direct contact effort and targeted marketing activities in order to get them involved.

VCTC Executive Director Deny Dotson also mentioned that VCTC needs to come up with a plan for the business traveler.  The employees, vendors and customers of the companies at TRI do a great deal of business travel and temporary assignments. These employees are prime “targets” for VC activities and we need to get to them. Additionally, the major companies at TRI regularly conduct tours of the facilities and Deny said that everybody wants to see the Tesla factory…it has “20 million feet under roof “and has become a part of destination tourism for many travelers.  Deny committed to draft a strategy that will address these opportunities and create a benefit for VC Tourism and merchant sales.

Next came a host presentation from the new owners of the Gold Hill Hotel and restaurant. Patrick McNamee and his partner Mathew Wilson came to Gold Hill from southern California and are extremely excited at the opportunity to take the Gold Hill “ back to what it used to be” as a destination for travelers and for locals. They will be open for dinner 5 nights starting May 18th, they will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They plan to have locals nights, restarting the lecture series, they will be bringing Squeek back for entertainment (YAY!!) and have $4 well drinks.

The Gold Hill free GRAND OPENING will be on June 9th. Yes…FREE!

The Marketing Update was next. Items of note were that RAD strategies are looking to connect with “influencers” on social media to write about VC. These are people who have widely read blogs who can do features on VC. The other ting of note is that Cemetery Gin won second place at the San Francisco Spirits competition.

The events update was next and apparently the Chili on the Comstock ticket sales have exploded over last year (YAY!). There are enough cooks and vendors and the event has been able to keep its Chili accreditation for another year.

The Rodeo is on track with ticket sales on par with last year. There will be a booth at the Reno Rodeo this year promoting our rodeo as well as liberal placement of promotional ads.

The 4th of July is on track but still needs to do fundraising despite the rollover of funds from last years “crop failure” event. The Fire Department still hasn’t found a location for the fireworks so stay tuned.

The Groups update can be found HERE.

Katie Demuth also gave a brief update on the Rural Roundup that she and Deny attended. She commented on how interesting the keynote speaker was this year…typically they are dry but this one was very lively and informative. A couple of key takeaways were that 70% of sales come from “curb appeal” such as seasonal window dressing, clever signage, giveaways etc. The key is to get people to stop at your door then your store. She noted that the “Around the World” shop did an excellent job of doing this. That they are always festive and have seasonal themes and signage year round. The other key takeaway is that you get 4 times the number of sales with an overnight stay.

SIDENOTE: I’ve written about this many times before. In my opinion the town needs more activities besides things that involve alcohol. By activities I mean more “adventure” type venues, better transportation around town, evening activities that are family oriented besides the wonderful music at the Red Dog and Bucket. More varied stores and merchandise. We’ve had a number of new merchants in the last few years and that’s great but having an Economic Development plan aimed at VC would go a long way in accelerating the kinds of things. But no. Our Commissioners don’t think we need one.

Deny then discussed a partnership with the Comstock Chronicle and some of the merchants to publicize grand openings and re-openings of businesses in VC. It was mentioned that adding the TRI businesses to this effort might also be of value.

Lastly Deny presented the financials. The Transient Lodging Tax(room tax) is about $11k below last year but is expected to catch up with the season starting. The Tourism Tax is ahead by about $50k compared to last year and budget.

And then there’s the financial report for the period ending in March, 2017. It is total crap so don’t bother to look at it. We haven’t had a financial report in months. The reason that Deny has given is that County Comptroller Hugh Gallagher has created separate funds for the event expenses and revenues and will not release those numbers until those funds have been audited. The problem here is that those funds have not been audited therefore Deny doesn’t have a clean set of “books” from which to report his financials. So anything that is produced by Hugh for VCTC is wrong.

Deny said that he knows where he stands with respect to the events since he keeps track on his end ( double set of books) and that he’s doing Ok based on his numbers. Bottom line, Deny as a manager has no real visibility as to his cash flow, the VCTC Board has no visibility into operational expenses and the public has no idea what’s happening with public funds.

Hugh needs to fix this.

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