Gordona Rowell, Executive Director for Shawnee’s Convention and Visitor Bureau, said “2008 was a banner year for us. We started to feel the recession in 2009,” Rowell said.



Gordona Rowell, Executive Director for Shawnee’s Convention and Visitor Bureau, said “2008 was a banner year for us. We started to feel the recession in 2009,” Rowell said. “But 2010 is starting to look up.”
Rowell’s remarks came as she was presenting the CVB’s annual report to Shawnee city commissioners.
Rowell explained trends showed that people are now traveling more locally and Shawnee is experiencing more stop-over traffic.
“Luckily our tourism industry isn’t dedicated to one attraction,” Rowell said. “When things start to bottom out, we have other areas to pick it up.”
Rowell said surcharge revenue for the City increased by seven percent.
“Hotel occupancy is 61 percent this year. We would like it to be at 65 percent,” Rowell added. “We had five new rallies come in this year, all were the result of recruitment we did in 2008-2009.”
Rowell said the SCVB will focus heavily on social media in future recruitments, predicting a decline in printed materials in the future.
“We have gone from packets to C.D.’s to social media,” Rowell said.
Rowell announced a partnership with the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center for 2011.
“Where we would see 300 to 500 unit rallies, we are now seeing 600 to 700 unit rallies starting to happen,” Rowell stated.
“The Firelake Grand Hotel is expected to go up some time this year,” Rowell said.
“Other new hotel projects would hinge on the Bryan Street interchange,” Rowell responded to a question by one of the commissioners.
In other commission business:
• Community Development Director Justin Erickson, on the city’s plan to increase enforcement of ordinances, said 10-15 public hearings are scheduled in March to demolish dilapidated homes due to an additional $30,000 authorized by the City, increasing the total amount the city will demolish to a maximum of 20-25 houses this year.
“The City’s grant assistance program is still available for those in need,” Erickson said.
Erickson said an additional staff person with additional support from City utility meter readers would allow the City to better enforce existing ordinances.
• Cindy Sementelli, city finance director, said that City revenues were 5.5 percent more than in February of 2009. Sementelli said that use tax had increased and predicted $300,000 in additional revenue from the use tax this year.
• Brian McDougal, city manager, said the Blackboard Connect system would be used in the notification of warrants, and that a recent warrant round-up was successful by the police department.
• Steve Smith, Ward 6 commissioner, requested the city look into more recycling.
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Robby Short may be contacted by calling 214-3934