Behind the Lace Curtains-Visitor and Convention Bureau and Inclusion of All

Earlier this week, I attended a meeting with several other people about reinstating the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) for Havre.  State personnel were on hand to provide information, give guidance and told us what we need to do in order for this to move forward.  This is a good thing for Havre, but let's not forget the past.  After all, that's why I'm here.

First off, the CVBs are formed after a community consistently makes so much money in bed tax revenue.  After that threshold is made, communities fill out an application for approval and if approved, a portion of the bed tax comes back to the community to use for tourism promotion.

A few years ago, this happened in Havre, but do you think the person in charge notified the community and allowed them to participate?  No, she told only her cronies.  The CVB was approved, and this person, the then-"Executive Director" of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, used this as her personal slush fund so she could have her travel paid for under the auspices of "promoting tourism" which included attending conferences, trade shows, etc.  And of course she was not fair in promoting sites and businesses in the community. She deliberately left my business out of any and all promotion, because she hates me. She does not want me doing what I'm doing through my business and was using public money against my efforts.

Then comes a lawsuit that would have cost City of Havre taxpayers millions in lawyers fees and court costs.  This involved the annexation of properties and rather than drag things out through court, the City rightfully decided to abandon their annexation efforts and do it in much smaller increments.  This knocked Super 8 and AmericInn out of the funding picture, and we lost our CVB status.  Of course, this irked the "Executive Director", because her cash cow was gone, and she spoke against settling the lawsuit.  She owns not one square inch of property in the City of Havre limits, but she was wanting us to pay millions in fees so she could keep her slush fund.  Shut up.

Move forward a couple of years, and some things have changed, but not my distrust of this person.  For, while she was throwing me a few bones here and there, she still stabbed me in the back.  Last year about this time, she notified us that we would be getting our CVB back, that it would happen at the Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) meeting to be held in June of 2017 and there would be this big deal.  She also announced she was retiring from the Chamber.  Good news, finally!

I took time off work to attend TAC, went to meetings, met people and was on hand when this person stood up, addressed those in attendance, but not one word about our CVB coming back or that it had been reinstated.  She talked plenty about herself, making it all about herself, but nada on the CVB.  I didn't say anything because I thought there must have certainly been some sort of hang up, and they were probably fixing it.  Was I wrong!

After the new Chamber Executive Director was hired and brought on board, we attended a Tourism Committee meeting and I asked about the CVB and why it wasn't in effect?  I was informed at that time that the person "in charge" didn't fill out the application and therefore we didn't get the CVB and that TAC was mad because they made an effort to have their meeting in Havre-for nothing.  She screwed over the Havre community, the one she claims to "love and support", for what reason I don't know.   Havre's self-appointed and self-professed "Queen of Tourism". For shame!

We now have the opportunity to get the CVB back and this time everyone interested could attend the meeting.  I certainly did, because the new CVB will not be run like the way it was the first time, where she used public tax dollars against people and businesses she didn't like, namely mine, and deliberately excluded me from being promoted. Jody is not that way, and I am so grateful she is on board!  I have not been this hopeful and optimistic in over 20 years!

The City will be renewing its support on Monday evening, and you bet I'll be there!


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