City Backs CVB

August 15, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners approved the city’s annual $50,000 funding commitment to the Convention and Visitors Bureau last week. The city raises the revenue from a promotional millage that is rolled into its property-tax levy.

“In other words, we pass the $50,000 through to them,” said Scott Buhrer, city chief financial officer.

Bureau Executive Vice President George Helmstead said 190 meetings were held in the area last year that were worth $57 million to the local economy. Of that total, he said 126 meetings were held downtown, with most taking place at DeVos Place. The downtown gatherings were worth $48 million in direct spending to local coffers.

“The most effective way to sell the city is to bring people here. Because we’re more national in scope, it costs us more to bring people here,” said Helmstead.

The CVB has an annual budget of $4.2 million.

Kent County also supports the bureau financially. The county is funding the CVB with $700,000 this year, revenue it receives from the Lodging Excise Tax.

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