The Ottumwa Courier

January 9, 2013

Ottumwa City Council starts the year on a good note

Bridge View, Convention and Visitors show gains in dollars, participation

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa City Council received good news from the Bridge View Center and Ottumwa Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Tuesday night.

Bridge View Center executive director Larry Gawronski said during the first six months of this fiscal year, the center has had 324 event usage days, more than 46,000 attendees and as a result, nearly $500,000 in direct spending.

That results in more than $1.1 million in economic impact, Gawronski said, since those who come to the center also go out into the community and spend money on gas, lodging, meals and shopping.

“The best part is when someone outside Ottumwa and Wapello County brings money into this economic model, it generates much more than the recirculating dollar within the county,” he said.

Gawronski said the center is similar to a plant in that it’s an “economic generator.”

“We’re a warehouse for events,” he said.

Several major events are coming soon, including Hairball, the Bullriders of America finals, Club Swing, the Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference and to round off the spring — Larry the Cable Guy.

Dale Uehling, president of the Bridge View Center, Inc. board, also presented the city with a $50,000 check from the endowment fund.

“Since [BVC] opened, the purpose of the fund was to supplement the loss we knew the center would have,” Uehling said. “Part of our fundraising was an opportunity to donate to the building fund or the endowment fund.”

More than $2 million was raised for the endowment fund, and the city has received a total of $321,483 so far.

Mark Eckman, director of the CVB, said Wapello County has seen a spike in travel expenditures in the last year.

“In 2011, $75 million was spent in Wapello County due to a lot of local effort,” he said.

In the past year, the CVB was able to do more advertising statewide and make technological improvements.

The city also provided the CVB $100,000 in hotel/motel tax dollars. The CVB has applied for many grants, including one from the Wapello County Foundation, which will allow them to create an information center at Bridge View Center.

The CVB has also partnered with area organizations, including the American Gothic House Center and Wapello County Supervisors, to increase funding. The hire of a media coordinator, Brian Chambers, has helped spread the word about activities in the county.

“If I hear one more time that there’s nothing going on in the area, I’m going to scream,” Eckman laughed.

On Jan. 26, the city of Ottumwa will find out if it will be hosting an overnight stay on the RAGBRAI route this summer. The CVB is also hoping to snag the 2015 Men’s State Bowling Tournament, as well as the 2015 Iowa Tourism Conference.

The council approved the purchase of retractable side curtains for the Central Park stage.

Councilman Bob Meyers had concerns about possible vandalism of the curtains.

“It’s going to be new to all of us, so we anticipate they’ll be mounted on the awning of the stage and when they’re not being used, they’ll be retracted,” said Parks Director Gene Rathje. “We’ll have to devise a lock so they’re not taken down and vandalized. And at the end of the performance season, they’ll be taken down and stored in City Hall for the winter.”



The City Council also approved:

• The remodeling plan of the main conference room in City Hall, which will begin next week.

• Plans to repaint the wave pool at The Beach Ottumwa, which will begin in March or April.