More funds could be in Convention & Visitors Bureau’s future

TR photo by Mike Donahey Bill Martin and Bethany Wirin are pictured during Monday night’s city council meeting.

How best to promote Marshalltown as a welcoming, vibrant and growing community was one of two discussion items generating keen interest at Monday night’s council meeting.

The second was: What is the most effective way to enhance Marshalltown’s public image and who is best prepared to do the job?

While no votes were taken, the discussion did set the stage for possible increases to the Marshalltown Convention & Visitor Bureau and more support for Vision Marshalltown.

City Administrator Jessica Kinser said enhancing the city’s image was but one of several planks in the city’s overall strategic plan. Councilors and department heads devoted a whole day to the strategic plan in a session three months ago. The plan is designed as a road map which influences budget decisions and more.

“There is one area I want to focus on,” Kinser said. “We need to keep saying it so we remember it: ‘Our mission is that the city of Marshalltown collaborate to provide a welcoming space, vibrant and growing community.’ “

The second plank, Kinser said, was “to enhance Marshalltown’s public image.”

“And should the city be doing the public relations and marketing?” Kinser said. “And was that the path you really wanted to do down? Or was it we (the council) be contributing funds to other entities to fulfill that mission? I would like some better direction so we can move the strategic plan forward.”

First ward councilor Sue Cahill and At-Large Councilor Bill Martin said that experienced local groups such as the Convention & Visitors Bureau or Vision Marshalltown might be best suited to carry out those tasks instead of city staff.

“I do not thing marketing is a good fit for city staff,” Cahill said. “Locally we have the Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureau and Vision Marshalltown. We had discussed reducing the MCVB allotment but perhaps we need to increase their share with the understanding they would have extra responsibilities.”

At-Large Councilor Bethany Wirin weighed in saying the groups are professional and skilled at marketing and image-making.

The MCVB was established in 1991. The MCVB is operational through the funding received from a percentage of the Motel/Hotel tax, of which the city keeps a portion and gives the balance to the bureau.

“The MCVB is dedicated to promoting the Marshalltown area as a destination for meetings, conventions, group tours and recreational activities,” according to its website.

“Vision Marshalltown is a group of community stakeholders working to drive better solutions for education, housing and community pride,” according to its website. “We work with our partner organizations to create growth and progress in Marshalltown.”

The issue is expected to generate more discussion and final decisions as the council moves forward to finalizing the plan.

The next regular meeting of the council is 5:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in council chambers, 10 W. State St. Visit www.marshalltown-ia.gov for complete agenda packets and to subscribe to agenda notices and department news.

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Contact Mike Donahey at

641-753-6611 or

mdonahey@timesrepublican.com