Chamber presents contract, request to council

Donelle Pardee Whiting

Washington Chamber of Commerce director Carol Hamilton addressed the city council Monday night in regards to extending the chamber’s annual contract to promote the city.

The chamber recently revised its original budget request adding an additional $5,000 toward advertising.

The chamber’s budgeted expenses total $177,000, of which the majority goes to advertising to promote not only tourism, but business and residential growth.

In addition to spots on Comcast and print advertisements, the chamber has three Web sites — the chamber’s main page, an economic development site and a portal page with links to members’ Web sites.

Each of the sites provides information about Washington for anyone interested in information about the city and what it has to offer.

Although the chamber already has booklets, staff members send out to anyone expressing an interest in locating in Washington, either residential or commercial, Hamilton said they plan to include a DVD to supplement the booklet.

The DVD will have testimonials as to why someone would want to move to Washington and why the city is a good place to open a business.

Alderman Gene Schneider said he would like see what the chamber does before he can agree to an additional $5,000 in funding.

“I see goals, but not results,” in reference to the packet given to council members.

City administrator Bob Morris asked Hamilton to provide a year-end report outlining everything the chamber accomplished prior to the council’s regular meeting on Monday.

Schneider said a year-end report would help him decide on the issue of approving additional funds.

Alderman Jim Gee said he is in favor of approving more funding for chamber advertising.

“They do a great job.”

Hamilton also spoke about the Cherry Festival, although she did not have the final revenue and attendance figures.

Cherry Festival is another way to show visitors what Washington has to offer, Hamilton said.

She said she felt the festival was a success despite the loss of revenue Friday because of stormy weather.

“Thursday and Saturday were the biggest ever,” Hamilton said, adding she thinks the raffle did better than last year, which was a record-breaking year.

“We utilized advertising in all the local papers and on cable,” she said. There was also an article in Midwest Living magazine.

The Washington Cherry Festival accounts for 60 percent of the chamber’s budgeted income, Hamilton said.