Bridge View Center officials have a primary goal: Increase sales.

That is the only way to rebound from the facility’s budget deficit, said Bridge View General Manager Nicole Pasqual.

Pasqual answered questions from the Ottumwa City Council at a work session Monday night.

“There is no way to rebound unless we can increase sales,” Pasqual said. “And the only way to increase sales is to get the public out here.”

One of the positive steps that’s been made is hiring a full-time director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and moving Kathy Speas to full-time marketing at Bridge View, said Ottumwa Mayor Dale Uehling.

“There has to be support from the community for this facility. The public has to start to embrace the Bridge View Center,” Pasqual said.

For example, she said, for April, the Bridge View Center saw about $12,000 in sales; and for May, sales are projected to be about $115,000.

“That to me is pretty good,” Pasqual said. “I would hope we can do that every month.”

Pasqual offered a few simple ways to increase sales. One way is selling coffee, snacks and lunch during the day.

Councilmembers cited concerns about advertising efforts and the amount budgeted for covering cost of talent.

“It’s not my budget. I know I’m stuck with it. This is a bad document,” Pasqual said, adding that there are line items missing. She suggested coming up with a new budget for the facility.

Pasqual has been the general manager for more than one month. The current budget and upcoming budget were both prepared by the previous general manager.

Councilman Keith Caviness suggested that Bridge View target people in surrounding counties and offer incentives if they attend events.

“We have to rely on more than just the citizens of Ottumwa,” Caviness said.

Councilman Bob Meyers said that the Bridge View Center has had to deal with a rough economy.

“This is the wrong business to be in in this kind of economy,” Meyers said.

Pasqual said that despite the economy, Bridge View is willing to offer affordable events to the public.

“It’s a beautiful facility and it’s here. No one is taking a bulldozer to it,” Pasqual said. “All in all, we have to get in a pattern of delivering what people want. I’ll try anything.”

The council did not take any action on the Bridge View Center budget at the meeting.

Pasqual asked the council for future suggestions on how to improve sales. She said she is also open to hearing opinions from the public. The phone number for Bridge View is 684-7000.

Pat Shaver can be reached at (641) 683-5360 or by e-mail at p.shaver@ottumwacourier.com.

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