City, Chamber, EDC to partner for new retail and tourism position
By Lindsey vaculin
The Cameron City Council took action to begin looking for a Director of Development and Tourism in an agreement with the Cameron Chamber of Commerce, Cameron Economic Development Corporation and Tourism Board during its meeting on Feb. 6.
“This is something we are trying to create with the Economic Development Corporation, the Tourism Board, the City of Cameron and the Chamber of Commerce,” Cameron City Manager Rhett Parker said. “This would be a position as tourism director and retail director for the City of Cameron. This person would work hand-in-hand with markets to promote retail development in Cameron and be the Chamber of Commerce manager as well as tourism manager and work with CEDC for retail development.”
Parker said the CEDC has already approved $10,000 towards creating this position along with the Chamber of Commerce, which will provide $20,000. The Tourism Board was set to meet Wednesday, Feb. 8, to discuss providing $10,000.
“This will be a $35,000 to $40,000 salary,” Parker said. “The city’s portion will be benefits which is $10,000 to $15,000.”
The Chamber of Commerce will provide all of the overhead for the position and the person will be housed with Ginger Watkins, the Cameron Industrial Foundation Executive Director, in the Chamber office.
“We really want this to be someone who can focus on retail for the entire city and focus on rebuilding our downtown area,” Parker said.
Councilmember Robert Davis asked how the city would slot this into the budget given current budget constraints this fiscal year. Parker said the city currently has some funds that were set aside to paint the front of city hall - about $10,000.
“We are looking at forgoing that and taking that portion and moving it over to administration and we can slot this into our budget,” Parker said.
Councilmember Bobby Schiller said the EDC will possibly have some income in the next month and their portion of the funds will come out of that.
“I have the same concerns as Robert about the timing of this,” Councilmember Melissa Williams said. “With the budget and concerns about if we are paying our current employees enough and now to add another employee on top of that. I’m just not sure.”
Davis said he has reason to pause seeing as at the last council meeting three police officers were recognized who are leaving because they got better pay somewhere else.
“I’m not saying this isn’t a good idea, I’m just questioning the timing of it,” Davis said.
“We aren’t taking on the whole thing,” Parker said. “We are just taking on the benefits. The Chamber and the CEDC are taking on the bulk of this.”
Schiller said that this position will take care of rental at The Yards of Cameron and the upcoming Farmers Market and work on bringing new retail development to the city.
“This person will get involved with the downtown merchants to bring events in that will help support our local merchants,” Parker said. “Looking for a lot of small hits that will bring people into our downtown merchants.”
The Chamber of Commerce has already voted to move forward with creating the position.
Chamber President Daniel Willie said the Chamber came up with the funding because they decided it was time to go in a different direction.
“The situation we ran into and how we were able to come up with the funding is that currently we have a Chamber secretary,” he said. “We felt the need to have someone that was going to go out and bring more things into Cameron, whether its festivals, concerts, events.”
He said this person will work with incoming businesses and help current businesses that are growing as well as go out and bring people into the community.
The $20,000 is the salary that he Chamber currently has in place.
“We couldn’t do it all by ourselves,” he said. “We have beautiful facilities, we need someone going out to other communities and saying bring your events here, come to Cameron.”
“We know there are groups that come through small towns for one reason or another,” Willie said. “The location of Cameron is a plus. We are right in the heart of that Highway 36 and Highway 77 corridor and are equidistant from Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. We are at a great meeting point for sporting events and youth events.”
Parker said all entities will sign and interlocal agreement for a five-year contract with the person that fills the position.
“Nobody is just going to hear that we have these great facilities here,” Willie said. “We need someone to go out and sell Cameron to them.”
The Tourism Board was set to met Wednesday, Feb. 8, to discuss the position.
In other business the council also: approved a request from the C.H. Yoe High School National Honor Society and Student Council to hold the Color Run on April 15; approved the use of the downtown mall for the Cameron Car Show on April 1; and approved a resolution authorizing participation in a coalition of similarly situated cities in connection with intent to change rate CGS and Rate PT of Atmos Energy.