By Don Iler • News Editor • 

City council approves creation of tourism organization

The Transient Lodging Tax Advisory Committee recommended creating the city’s own destination marketing organization after two days of meetings during which the committee heard from many involved in tourism promotion. It decided on creating its own DMO after a presentation from Doug LaPlaca, president of Visit Bend, who showed how successful Bend’s DMO had been in promoting the popular Central Oregon travel destination.

“(Travel Bend) uses a model to push outdoor recreation,” said Erin Stephenson, chairperson of the advisory committee during the council’s dinner meeting. “We can use their model to push everything that is unique and special about McMinnville.” 

The city will now create its own DMO, most likely with a full-time staff, whose sole purpose will be promoting tourism in and around the city. The committee said creating its own DMO will be more effective in attracting tourism than awarding one-time grants. 

The move was applauded by many members of McMinnville’s business community speaking in favor of the measure.

“Forming a DMO lets us get back to our main mission,” said Cassie Sollars, manager of the McMinnville Downtown Association. “We are enthusiastic about this.”

Sollars said that creating a DMO would allow entities like the McMinnville Downtown Association and the Chamber of Commerce to get out of the business of tourism promotion and focus instead on their core missions. 

Councilor Scott Hill said he thought creating the DMO was the right move after sitting through the presentations with the advisory committee. 

Stephenson said the DMO will be the most effective way to use the dollars earned from the transient lodging tax. State law stipulates that 70 percent of lodging tax revenue must be spent on tourism promotion, with the city retaining 30 percent for its general fund. 

The Transient Lodging Tax Advisory Committee will now look at creating bylaws for a DMO. The city will have a budget of around $500,000 to create a DMO. Stephenson advised the council to hire LaPlaca to consult with the city on creation of a DMO. 

In other business the council:

n Heard from Mike Barr who encouraged the council to tackle the city’s homelessness problem. He said regardless of where council members stood on the ideological or religious spectrum, homelessness was something they needed to respond to. He said homelessness costs most American cities $40,000 to $100,000 per homeless person annually in medical, policing and mental health costs.

Mayor Rick Olson said the city was beginning to address homelessness, an issue the council made as one of its goals for the year.

- Issued a proclamation declaring May 2 as Lemonade Day in honor of the Chamber’s program teaching children about entrepreneurship.

- Approved a contract for $206,845 to AKS Engineering and Forestry LLC to work on sewer lines in the neighborhood surrounding the old Cook School. 

- Adopted a resolution supporting city staff seeking a state grant for the city’s parks.



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