The Winthrop Chamber of Commerce has opted not to renew its agreement with the Town of Winthrop to provide tourism marketing services, which means the town will need to contract with someone to pick up the marketing efforts.
For several years, the town has contracted with the chamber to handle marketing of community events and attractions. The chamber hired Kristen Smith to handle the responsibilities. Smith has resigned effective Aug. 31.
The Town Council learned at its meeting last week that the chamber of commerce has decided not to continue the previous agreement.
The town’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) has been seeking applicants for the marketing director position, expecting to conduct interviews and then make a recommendation to the chamber of commerce. LTAC oversees use of the hotel and motel taxes the town receives, which are required to be devoted to tourism promotion activities and programs.
At last week’s council meeting, Mayor Sally Ranzau said the chamber’s decision same as something of a surprise. “The chamber of commerce no longer wants to be responsible for the marketing director,” she said. “We didn’t know they were backing out … They feel it would be better-served by the town.”
Chamber president Mark Ryan said in an interview that the chamber “has been the middle man for a while … but it doesn’t seem to be really necessary anymore.”
Ranzau said there were four or five applicants for the full-time position, and interviews would begin right away. The mayor said the next marketing director will be a contractor, not a town employee. The LTAC recommendation will come directly to the Town Council for a decision.
“I would rather it be a contractor,” council member Ben Nelson said.
The mayor said that Smith has prepared a thorough job description for the next marketing director. Smith has been particularly aggressive and effective with social media marketing strategies to generate interest in Winthrop.