A&P Commission votes to fund spread in business, tourism publication – El Dorado News-Times

The El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission approved Wednesday a funding request to ensure that the city will have a place in an Arkansas business/tourism publication that is distributed internationally.
Bill Luther, president and chief executive officer of the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce, presented the funding request of $5,000 to help cover advertising costs and full-page spreads in “Arkansas: Love Where You Live” magazine.
El Dorado was featured in the first edition of the biennial publication, which was launched in 2019.
The A&P commission supported the city’s appearance in the inaugural magazine with a $4,000 allotment, per a funding proposal that was also presented by Luther in August of 2019.
Luther told commissioners then that Arkansas: Love Where You Live was a new project resulted from a partnership between the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADHPT).
He explained that the magazine would target business professionals/executives, human resource departments, business/industry prospects, trade shows and other such events around the world.
On Wednesday, Luther said the AEDC uses the magazine to court economic development opportunities on a worldwide scale, while ADPHT recruits tourists and tries to entice people, particularly retirees, to move to Arkansas.
A profile of El Dorado and photos highlighting some of the city’s amenities were spread across four pages in the first “Arkansas: Love Where You Live” magazine.
Within the two years since the first edition of the magazine was published, the AEDC directed seven potential economic development projects toward the chamber of commerce, Luther said.
He said the chamber submitted proposals for four of the projects, adding that some of the prospective businesses shared that the AEDC did not recommend El Dorado as a site to locate their businesses.
“Two said they wanted to come to El Dorado and I am attributing that to what they saw in this publication,” Luther said while holding up a copy of the “Arkansas: Love Where You” Live magazine.
He said a total of $12,500 is needed, telling commissioners that Union County is assisting with a $5,000 contribution and the chamber will make up the remainder of the costs.
Commissioners asked how many of the 2019 – 2021 magazines were printed and Luther said the AEDC and ADPHT each received 20,000 copies of the magazine to distribute.
Some magazines were also sent to sponsors and others who supported the project.
Luther said the chamber received 75 copies, which were mostly handed out to area companies and their recruiting departments.
“They gave them out to prospective employees to try to get them to come here,” Luther said.
The chamber requested an additional 20 copies, some of which were included in information packets that the chamber put together and distributed to local hotels and other lodging establishments, including Airbnbs, with evacuees from some of the areas in the region that were in the path of Hurricane Ida.
The hurricane made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29 and worked its way up to the East Coast as a tropical storm before moving out into the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday.
“We made up a bunch of packets that showed family entertainment-type businesses and maps of restaurants and a map of El Dorado and we put it in folders and took them to the hotels,” said Luther.
After the A&P commission approved the $5,000 funding request, Commissioner Alan Meadows asked when the new “Arkansas: Love Where You Live” edition will be published and Luther said the print date is scheduled near the end of October.
The A&P commission has a vacancy for someone who works in the hospitality industry.
After several months of work, an ad-hoc committee that was formed to review and tighten up the commission’s bylaws presented a final draft for approval.
After approving the new bylaws, the commission’s first order business was to address an issue regarding absences.
A&P chairman Barbie Luther broached the topic, noting that former Commissioner Sanjay Patel had not attended any commission meetings this year.
“And it may have been only a couple of meetings before that,” she said.
When Commissioner Kelli Harrison made a motion to remove Patel from the commission, per the bylaws, Meadows asked, “Can we talk to him first?”
Luther and Harrison said the matter had been discussed with Patel.
Commissioner Dianne Hammond asked who had spoken to Patel and Commissioner Don Miller said he had.
Patel, who owns two local hotels — LaQuinta Inn by Wyndham and Holiday Inn Express –, previously told commissioners that because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, he has had to spend more time working in his hotels.
Patel said last year that the hotels, like other businesses, faced several challenges because of the public health crisis.
In addition to a loss in business, Patel said that he has also had to fill in more because of labor shortages, some of which were attributed to employees’ having to take time off due to exposure to the virus.
Miller said Patel made similar statements during their conversation regarding Patel’s repeated absences from A&P meetings.
“It doesn’t seem like something that’s going to change anytime soon. He didn’t seem concerned about being removed (from the commission),” said Miller.
Commissioners voted to remove Patel. He had served on the A&P commission since the late aughts.
Luther asked City Clerk Heather McVay to send Patel a letter notifying him of the commission’s decision.
The vote left an open seat on the seven-member A&P commission, which is made up of four members from the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants, conference/convention centers, tourism, etc.), two members from the El Dorado City Council and an at-large position.
Luther and Commissioner Paul Choate, who also serves on the city council, said one of four hospitality slots has opened up in the wake of Patel’s removal.
Luther said she would like to see another hotel owner or manager fill the seat.
The A&P commission collects and expends revenues from a 3% lodging tax to help promote the city.
The commission meets at 1:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month in City Hall.
The group holds regular meetings in January and February and every other month thereafter.
Anyone who is interested in serving on the A&P commission, may request an application by calling McVay at (870) 881-4877 or sending an email to [email protected]
Also, visit the City Hall Facebook page.
Commissioners are expected to elect officers when they convene for their next regular meeting in November.
Print Headline: A&P Commission votes to fund spread in business, tourism publication
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