From WILL - News Headlines -

Urbana Council Scraps CVB Funding

The city of Urbana's community development staff will work up a convention and tourism promotion campaign in conjunction with the Urbana Business Association.

A plan to fund Champaign County's Convention and Visitors Bureau at a much lower level failed to receive the necessary votes in last night's committee of the whole meeting to move forward.

The plan to give the CVB $18,800 needed six votes, but only received five. Alderwoman Heather Stevenson was absent. Opponents include Alderman Eric Jakobsson, who raised concerns with the lack of information and links on the Bureau's website. Mayor Laurel Prussing still contends the CVB still hadn't proved it was providing a return on the city's $72,000 investment.

"They're operating in a market that is completely dominated by the University of Illinois, and what they do isn't going to make one difference one way or the other," Stevenson said. "The major thing is people come here for a football game, a basketball game, for (the U of I's) Krannert Center. What CVB says on their website or doesn't say on their website isn't going to make any difference to that."

The original amount for the CVB was vetoed by the mayor, and the city council failed to override that veto in July. Community development staff is expected to prepare a report in the coming weeks.

Alderman Dennis Roberts questioned how those employees can take on such duties, and stay apprised of local events. Alderman Brandon Bowersox-Johnson argued that it only made sense to market businesses and special events on a regional basis.

"It doesn't make sense for our staff here in community development to be promoting a couple of things on our side of the line, but for us not to be able to tell people to go see Hardee's Reindeer Ranch or to go tour the (U of I's) supercomputer or to see other amazing things in Champaign County," Bowersox-Johnson said. "So ultimately if we all try to do our own little piece of this puzzle, I don't think we'll market Champaign County as well."

But since Urbana will forgo CVB funding for the time being, Bowersox said the city owes it to local businesses and shops to do a good job.