Up Close and Personal: The CVBMay 6, 2018
In this blog series, Up Close and Personal, we’re going to answer some of, what I’m sure, are your most burning questions: who, what, where, when, how and why. (Is anyone else thinking about The Master of Disguise right now? Just me? OK, moving on.) The first blog of this series will focus on – who else? – us!
Who are we? Leisha and Leah.
What are we? We’re the CVB. (Partial credit if you guessed ‘humans.’)
I know exactly what you’re thinking now, What’s a CVB?
It stands for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. (I’m still trying to figure out what all those words mean together, but the gist will suffice.) Using context clues, I’m sure you were able to figure out that, in a nutshell, we promote Marion County to visitors. The offices of the CVB are located in the Marion County Visitor Center.
Where is it? We’re on top of the Gateway Connector, but we pride ourselves in being almost everywhere. If our guides aren’t strewn throughout the town, we are. We’re out at the restaurants, the movies, the trails and the get-togethers.
When did it come to exist? In its present state, the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Marion County was incorporated in 1996. The first office was in the Chamber of Commerce Building in Downtown Fairmont. As a temporary location, the CVB office moved to White Hall until the construction of the Gateway Connector and Visitor Center was complete. And that wasn’t easy. The Visitor Center building (which houses the Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission or MCPARC offices along with the CVB) was constructed from the original stone of the Marion County Children’s Shelter. So the shelter wasn’t torn down but deconstructed stone by stone. Instead of kids, this place now houses lots of information about Marion County, the surrounding area as well as the state’s top attractions.
A more specific question I’m sure you’re asking is, When can we come visit the Visitors Center? We’re open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Stop by sometime for the Marion essentials, good conversation and even better stories. We love talking to travelers and locals alike! If you happen to come after hours you can still find info about the area in our outdoor brochure rack.
How is it funded? CVBs all over the state are primarily funded through hotel/motel tax. The tax is collected when a visitor spends the night in a hotel, cabin, bed & breakfast, etc. The hotel sends the tax to its respective municipality, which then splits those dollars with the CVB.
In Marion County’s case, the County, City of Fairmont, Town of White Hall and the City of Pleasant Valley all have hotels and remit a portion of the tax collected to the CVB. There are pretty strict codes on how this money can be spent. On the CVB side, we adhere to an accreditation process where we demonstrate that we are good stewards of the money entrusted to us. Not to brag, but the CVB of Marion County passes with flying colors.
And all this money goes into one thing: Advertising all that Marion County has to offer. We know that Marion County is a cool place, and we want “outsiders” to know it, too. Our vision is for people to visit the region, tell others about all the cools things they discovered, and plan a return trip to what we like to call ‘the middle of everywhere.’
What do we do exactly? As much as two people possibly can! While I’m writing blogs and greeting visitors, Leisha is updating all of our social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, the works!). If we’re not brushing up on webinars and scoping out the competition, we’re working with Fairmont State University and all of our great attractions and getting the good name of Marion out there. You can also find us passing out pepperoni rolls at the state capitol, lobbying at our nation’s capitol or working hours and hours at travel shows giving out guides while telling everyone about this place! (Sometimes we take pepperoni rolls with us there, too, just so sad out-of-towners can have the glorious experience we get everyday.)
Now is a very exciting time for me, Leisha and the county. We’re updating the website, blog page, visitors guide and Marion County brochures with a cooler vibe and strategic marketing. And that means tons of editing, proofing, contacting businesses, writing blurbs and constantly critiquing the whole marketing campaign. Don’t you love it when work gets fun?
Why do we do it? I hope you’re ready for some math! Attracting visitors to the area is almost everything when it comes to our economy (especially since coal and natural gas will not last as long as we’d like). Visitors to Marion County spent $70.7 million in 2017 alone! That meant an earning of $21.4 million and maintained 960 jobs just in Marion County. (Two of those jobs were ours!)
As an entire state, travel generated $527 million in state and local taxes. Know what that means? Less money that residents have to pay in taxes. (Dolla dolla bills y’all!) For every dollar spent on tourism advertising (television ads, state guides, maps, brochures, social media marketing), $8 comes back to us as state and local taxes. Without it? Each household in West Virginia would have to pay $700 more a year in taxes.
Now for our actual answer…
Leisha and I love Marion County. I grew up here. She’s raising her family here. It’s home. Aside from that, it’s known as both the safest place and the friendliest place in West Virginia. Marion County is necessary. From the up-and-coming businesses (The Rambling Root, Street Food Kitchen) to those that up-and-came (Joe n Throw, Mountain Creative), Marion County is morphing and transforming as more and more people begin to realize what Leisha and I have always known: Marion County is the middle of everything and everywhere.
We hope that as a local you take advantage of all the great attractions, restaurants and unique shopping that Marion has to offer while simultaneously taking others along in the fun.
So have fun, shop well and buon appetito!