This month I’m going to talk about a subject that previous directors have danced around: the grant we receive from the city of Homer.
Every year the chamber goes before the Homer City Council to ask for, and justify, the allocation from the city that is used to market the city of Homer. In real terms we have a contract with the city to perform a service. The city realizes that if we didn’t do it, they would have to. But this is a non-departmental allocation that is never assured, and the amount is never “stamped in stone.”
Unlike other non-profits who need and use their allocated funds to help pay for their operations, the chamber has a contract with the city to use those funds for marketing only. It does not pay for salaries, utilities or other operating costs. It goes toward advertising, helping host travel writers and professionals when they come to our town, and other marketing initiatives we put in place during the year.
This has always been a contentious issue in our town. I know that many people don’t want the city to “give money to fund the Chamber.” I’m hoping that my explanation of what’s behind the process will help alleviate your concerns.
I promised when I took over here to make an effort to be more inclusive in how we promote all of Homer. Many members and non-members believe we care only about tourism-related businesses, like fishing charters and lodging. That may have been true, but I am thinking about, and working on, ways to make this less true.
When I was hired here I also promised to be honest and truthful with you, whether you are one of our members or not. (How else can we get more members if I’m not?) This is an effort on my part to do just that.
I’ll go before the Homer City Council to explain how we used the funds in 2013, and make a formal request, in public, for the next year’s funds. You can hear me do this at the council’s meeting on Monday, Oct. 28.
And if you would like to speak to me about any of this, don’t hesitate to call. My best to you all.
Jim Lavrakas is the executive director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s mission is to support its membership through cooperative economic development and community service.