The Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is gearing up for a new year with new leadership.
The board's first meeting of the year is Jan. 17 at 11 a.m. at Denny's. The public is welcome to attend.
The board will induct its new members and officially seat this year's executive committee at the meeting. The executive committee includes Sean Casey of Bearizona, Dee Seehorn of Pine Country Restaurant, Tim Snyder of Arizona Grand Canyon Tours, Doug Wells of the Williams-Grand Canyon News, and Jim Winbourn of Jim Winbourn Landscaping & Property Maintenance.
At the meeting, the board will review some of its upcoming projects for the year and receive an update from its committees, including Clean and Beautiful, Ambassadors/member care, budget planning, education, executive, economic development, events oversight, Taste of Williams, and tourism and marketing.
The chamber board is responsible for promoting Williams and overseeing the chamber staff. In general, the chamber board's executive committee discusses issues before bringing them before the larger board of directors for a vote.
The board has 15 members who may serve two consecutive three-year terms. The board also includes three nonvoting ex-officio members: Williams Unified School District Superintendent Rachel Savage, City Manager Brandon Buchanan and Councilman James Wurgler.
Jim Winbourn, last year's Chamber Board Chair, said one of the chamber's major accomplishments in the last few years was "how to get the name Williams, Arizona out to the world."
One of the strategies the chamber used to accomplish this was hiring marketing agent Heather Hermen to work with Chamber President Gioia Goodrum to promote Williams.
"They know pretty much what publications to advertise in, what markets to hit, what trade shows to go to," he said. "I keep seeing Williams, Arizona in the news a lot. It's just what we need."
Another one of Winbourn's personal priorities was bringing Williams into the 21st century by seeing what works for other tourist destinations, advertising in different markets, and improving the appearance of the town.
"I'm in landscaping and property maintenance, and to me just having flowers and trees and that type of stuff all over town just says we're healthy, we're alive, we're growing," he said.
This year's new Chamber Board Chair Doug Wells said he is honored to fill the position for the third time.
Wells said he is looking forward to working with the board, chamber staff, and the city, which helps fund the chamber.
"They all bring a unique perspective on how best to promote our community and bring more tourism dollars and visitors to the town," he said.
Some of Wells' goals for this year include hiring an events coordinator at the chamber, getting more people involved with the chamber and improving on last year's chamber events.
"We'll be building upon those events and hopefully getting more participation from the community and more visitors from outside the area," he said.
Wells said the board also hopes to conduct a survey of businesses in town about what they believe the chamber's priorities should be.
"The function of a Chamber of Commerce in a town such as Williams is so important to our major employer, and that is the tourist industry," Wells said, adding that about 70 percent of Williams residents work jobs related to tourism either directly or indirectly.
"I've seen it in Williams over the years though, the Chamber really does make a big difference in this community and our success in the community," Wells said.
Dec. 20 meeting highlights
At their Dec. 20 meeting, board members discussed the following items:
Chamber budget planning: The city is withholding the money it gives the chamber to pay an events coordinator until someone is hired. The city budgets $273,000 to the Chamber for tourism and special events. In October, Bed, Board and Booze (BBB) revenue was down 17 percent from October 2012 because of the government shutdown. However, BBB revenue was still up 11 percent year to date.
Events coordinator: The chamber placed ads in newspapers in northern Arizona as well as with Arizona and western chambers.
Mountain Village Holiday: The chamber spent $12,000 for new lights and $20,000 in labor to put up and take down the decorations. The chamber raised $13,000 in Mountain Village Holiday sponsorships.
Chamber mission statement: The current mission statement reads: "To effectively serve our community by promoting diverse economic growth, prosperity, and enhanced quality of life." At the October retreat, the board proposed, "The Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce promotes Chamber membership and the Community through advocacy, programs, events and services." Staff also suggested adding, "Making Williams a better place to live, work and do business."
Meet the Mushers: The mushers group is interested in returning to town in February or March. They are considering using the ski area to put on a race.
Tourism: Visitation to the Visitor Center was down between October and November, but traffic on the www.experiencewilliams.com website increased 20 percent over the last year.