Saturday, August 05, 2006


The talking heads, pundits, and Management Company of the convention center have touted the success of the center over and over. Let’s look at the antidotal evidence of the success and the effect the convention center has had on the City. Main Street is on life support, the city is telling the employees that they can’t afford raises because the tax base isn’t growing and the other centers are hurting from the cannibalistic bite the center has taken out of their business. I am not going to sit here and do nothing but bash the center. After all it is beautiful and looks good. I just want to set the record straight about what the success level is and what we can expect.

Our tourism effort has been so misguided for so many years we can’t expect things to turn around on a dime. Let’s ask some questions for the new Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau director to ponder. If tourism is so strong here then why in July, the height of the season for Americans to take vacations, is our Main Street so void of tourists? Why has the convention center over delivered on meetings, weddings, gun shows and flea markets and under delivered on conventions?

It is obvious the new CVB director has a big job ahead of him. The new director should review the recent Randall Tourism Study and do something that the previous director didn’t do. Advertise where you are getting the biggest bang for the buck. In other words advertise closer to home. If you trust the Randall Study even those who are within 100 miles stay in hotels. The advertising money spent in Indiana and Iowa is hard to justify with 1.5 percent of the visitors coming from those areas. Take the dollar amount spent there and what we get for the return on that investment and you quickly realize the market isn’t there.

So to summarize, convention center beautiful but full of the wrong type of business. Main Street empty because we advertise in the wrong places. Tourism not the economic engine that we have been sold. I hope that our new director is as great as our last one was bad. Good luck. ttt