A decision on how to divide $200,000 in promotional grants among four tourism agencies -- and whether the county's Tourism Department will survive a restructuring move and also receive a promotions grant -- now rests with the Cattaraugus County Legislature's Development and Agriculture Committee.
The committee held a work session Thursday and entertained grant proposals from four chambers of commerce, which in September had requested a total of $295,787 from a $110,000 hotel occupancy tax funding pot last fall. Instead, the lawmakers expanded the grant program's funding pool to $200,000 and deferred the decision until 2009. One week ago, committee members learned that the county's tourism staff also hoped to obtain funding that would aid in marketing the entire county.
The Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce trimmed its initial $175,000 bid to $88,000 and in a presentation vowed to help promote East Otto and other nearby communities.
Ellicottville Chamber Director Brian McFadden said the Chamber decided to trim its request to let the other three chambers receive their full requests, a step that he said would make the committee's decision easier. He also suggested the county's Tourism Department focus on research tasks that would generate information to aid promotions by the county's various chambers and community groups.
John Sayegh, of the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce, pointed to plans for a new event focused on fall hunting and fishing opportunities, part of a requested $60,000 for marketing a list of events in print, radio, and television ads, along with brochure development and distribution.
"Brian does the hard work and my efforts are to attract the tourism traffic and to bring them 15 miles to the south," said Sayegh, adding that the City of Olean is not a tourist destination.
Jane Fenton of the Salamanca Area Chamber of Commerce said her organization will unveil a three-day Allegany River Festival in July. The Chamber seeks $27,000 from the county and will use the funds to expand ads outside the county, ramping up promotions for the Falling Leaves Festival, Seneca Nation cultural attractions, Allegany State Park and will work more closely with the county, the Seneca Nation and the Seneca Allegany Casino and surrounding communities.
The Randolph Area Community Development Corporation is requesting $29,787, with $20,000 of that to promote businesses and activities surrounding the nearby Amish Trail through print, television and Web ads. Another $9,787 will be spent on radio and cable ads, and promotional guides targeting specific attractions.
All four representatives said they benefited greatly from the last week or two, working together to finalize their presentations, and are eager to collaborate with the Cattaraugus County Tourism Department.
Both the chamber groups and the lawmakers paid close attention to the county Tourism Department's request for funds ranging between $200,000 for radio, television and print ads in the Buffalo media market, to $362,000 in the Buffalo, Rochester and Erie, Pa., media market.
The Development and Agriculture Committee will take up the topic again during committee sessions that begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday.