By Caitlin Switzer
MONTROSE—(August 6, 2013) Nice work if you can get it. Since the City of Montrose took over management of the tourism promotion ($400,000) and retail enhancement ($230,000) funds from the former Montrose ACT earlier this year, Rob Joseph of the City’s Office of Tourism Promotion has been promising to come up with a new, cohesive identity for Montrose that will “put heads in beds and make cash registers ring.” Though it was a city-driven initiative that brought the former Montrose Visitor & Convention Bureau, Montrose Chamber of Commerce and Montrose Area Merchants Association organizations together under the umbrella of Montrose ACT in 2010, the city in 2013 chose not to take on the $65,000 “Look Deeper” brand created by the Montrose VCB in 2009, but to create its own eventually. Joseph himself, though he draws a hefty salary as “Assistant City Manager,” spends at least some of his designated work days “volunteering” at the Black Canyon Visit Center to ascertain why people visit the region.
A recent, non-competitive city expenditure of $30,000 with Marketing Telluride Inc. for data analytics left some scratching their heads, but few have publicly questioned city council’s direction or expenditures.
Now, however, some local businesses are wondering where all the money has gone. With uncertainty surrounding the region’s main summertime draw—the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival (held successfully by a citizens’ group last weekend)—the City of Montrose chose instead to fund its own “signature” event, Four Days of the Fourth, culminating in an expensive, day-long Summerfest on Sunset Mesa featuring a concert by country artist Craig Campbell on July 6. However, the event drew few out-of-town or even local visitors, hotel owners say.
“I know that the numbers say hotel and excise taxes are up, but it just does not seem as busy as it was last year,” said Days Inn (1417 East Main) General Manager Brandon Hert.
Western Motel (1200 East Main St.) owner Jolanta Ogrodny was more direct.
“I don’t think the City is doing a good job at all,” she said. “I was thrilled when they took over the funds, but then they decided to do things by committee. Disgusting. The street closures are killing us—and I could not even find anything out about the (Craig Campbell) concert, and actually had to search to even find out where it was. The Olathe Sweet Corn Festival usually brings a day of full houses to Montrose and Delta—but the uncertainty about that has really hurt us this year.”
According to city documents, that final day of the Fourth cost the City roughly $40,000 in public funds. After paying Eventive Events & Promotions LLC $3,000 to put on the Summerfest event, $20,000 to SOGA Touring LLC for the concert itself, and $15,185 to Impact Audio Visual for truck-mounted LED’s, allocating $800 in “event support,” $777 was spent on ads with Cherry Creek radio. Tickets for the daylong event were $20 for adults, $5 for children age 6 to 11, and free to kids under five.
Promotion was never the city’s responsibility, but the event coordinator’s, OBT staffer and Assistant City Manager Rob Joseph said.
“People will say what they want, but I think most people are just glad we did something,” Joseph said, insisting that the Summerfest was very well advertised, and will be “reevaluated in future years.”
Meanwhile, Ogrodny said she hopes to see change on the City Council, accompanied by increased accountability. “My reservations are down 80 percent,” she said. “Could you survive? The hotel is for sale. I have actually gone from loving this town to despising it.”