At Monday evening’s work session, La Grande City Council members met with Union County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Suzannah Moore-Hemann to review the chamber’s annual reports and budget proposals for both tourism and the Blue Mountain Conference Center.

Moore-Hemann said in order to boost tourism, the chamber and the Union County Tourism Promotion Advisory Committee are exploring the possibility of allocating funds for “specific marketing and program enhancement,” according to a packet provided by the executive director.

Although the funds for hiring a marketing consulting agency and a design firm were allocated for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, turnover at the chamber has setback spending. Moore-Hemann said the plan is to carry this funding forward to the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, while starting marketing research efforts beforehand.

“We’d like to partner with a marketing agency to go over all of the current things we have like our ads, and really work with us to develop a cohesive, comprehensive marketing plan to maximize the effectiveness of our dollars,” she said at the meeting.

In regards to the Blue Mountain Conference Center, Moore-Hemann said the chamber is looking to continue its partnership, largely based on the premise that there is no other space available in the area that can hold large-scale events.

“We’re also looking at hopefully expanding and increasing the number of events (at BMCC),” she said. “We’re looking for creative ways to find events that want to use that space.”

La Grande Mayor Steve Clements praised Moore-Hemann for her efforts so far, as the executive director was only hired in January.

“I like this redirecting the way you’re using the money, and the outline of this plan is very clear,” the mayor said to Moore-Hemann. “You jumped in, you’ve been here for three months, and you’re right now in the prime tourism period and I think that’s a rational way to go, to pull back a little bit and then let it build.”

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer