Five organizations have advanced to the second round of interviews for Redding’s tourism marketing contract, according to Barry Tippin, Redding’s city manager. They include Advance Redding and the Redding Chamber of Commerce. Eighteen groups initially submitted proposals, including the city’s current tourism contract holder, the Redding Tourism Marketing Group, which did not move forward to the second round.
Advance Redding, one of the front-runners, is a non-profit started by Bethel Church to operate the Redding Civic Auditorium under contract with the city. Their progress towards winning the City’s tourism contract coincides with negotiations for the renewal of their 10-year contract to operate the Redding Civic Auditorium. Tippin says the two contract processes are not linked: “Advance Redding’s Civic Auditorium Lease is in no way, shape or form connected to the process for the tourism marketing contract. They are completely separate efforts and will not be tied at all,” he said.
The Civic Auditorium site describes Advance Redding as, “not a religious organization or a subsidiary of Bethel Church,” and says there are no financial ties between the two entities. Julie Dyer, General Manager of the Redding Civic Auditorium, confirmed that Kris Vallotton and Charlie Harper, both members of Bethel's Senior Leadership Team, continue to sit on the board of Advance Redding.
The current marketing tourism contract holder, the Redding Tourism Marketing Group, operates the site Visit Redding. They have held Redding's marketing tourism contract for nearly a decade. At a Council meeting in January, the Community Services Advisory Commission (CSAC) advised the Council to renew that contract, which expires in June, with stipulations attached.
Council member Julie Winter, a former Advance Redding board member and current Bethel elder, told the Council she felt it was in the City's best financial interest to solicit new proposals. The Council agreed to do so only after several statements praising the work of the Redding Tourism Marketing Group. According to former Mayor Adam McElvain, "it's already outperforming every year from the year previously. It's going to be difficult, I think, to find something that can do better than that."
Laurie Baker, Chief Executive Officer with the Redding Tourism Marketing Group, told Shasta Scout her team was once a city department that evolved into a private/public partnership allowing the group to reduce city staffing costs while continuing to market the city.
"It is sad," she said, "that we will not be able to continue our work for the City of Redding. I believe our team created an extraordinary amount of exposure for Redding as being a premier place to vacation and spend money that filtered through businesses reliant on visitor spending such as lodging, attractions, event venues, restaurants, and retail. Our response to the RFQ was well composed and it covered every item the city requested. We also added extra elements that would have elevated tourism marketing of Redding to the next level."
Their failure to move forward in the contract process seems to reflect a change in direction for tourism marketing for the city. The Request for Qualifications used to solicit proposals for the tourism marketing contract, was developed by Tippin and around ten others, he said, and clearly identifies the Redding City Identity Project as the City’s desired model for future marketing efforts:
“The City of Redding has undertaken an intentional identity campaign led by the Greater Redding Chamber of Commerce over the last two years with the purpose of developing a community story. The resulting Redding City Identity Project has been an inward-facing image awareness campaign to increase place attachment and a more collectively generated community image. Building on the momentum of the Redding City Identity Project, the City of Redding seeks to embrace a new brand image that clearly sets Redding apart as a tourist destination while representing hundreds of tourism related entities and incorporate a sense of place which residents both identify and champion.”
The Redding City Identity Project, which has solicited community ideas and funded community projects intended to improve Redding’s image both internally and externally over the last several years, has been advanced by the Redding Chamber of Commerce’s Forward Redding Foundation. The work of the Redding City Identity Project led to Redding’s Umbrella Alley and Redding’s Garden of Lights, among other projects.
Tourism marketing proposals were narrowed down from eighteen to five by a committee consisting of Mayor Erin Resner, Vice-Mayor Kristin Schreder and two members of CSAC, Commissioners Jones and Yergenson, assisted by staff members from the City of Redding. Second interviews are likely to be held this Friday, March 19th, Tippin said. Along with Advance Redding and the Chamber of Commerce, organizations Eddy Alexander, Mayes Media and Augustine Agency will also receive second interviews.
The City Council will utilize a recommendation from this committee as they make the final decision as to which organization is awarded the tourism marketing contract, Tippin said. The estimated budget for the new marketing tourism contract is $1 million annually, and the contract will be for a period of five years, with options for renewal. Discussions regarding this decision will occur during public meetings of the Council, at a date to be decided.
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