Chamber moving into smaller office on E. Main, closes VIC
MONROE - In what is being called an attempt to dispel rumors before they take root, Mayor Robert Zimmerman and chamber president Eldon Bartelheimer revealed last week through an opinion piece in another paper that the chamber’s Visitor’s Information Center would be closing its physical location inside the Chamber of Commerce office and going online only.
Chamber executive director Annique Bennett confirmed recently that the chamber office would be moving from its current location at 111 W. Main Street to 108 E. Main St.
The chamber office will close for the move Friday, Sept. 21 and reopen in the new location at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1. The phone number will remain the same.
Over the years chamber membership has dropped from a high of more than 400 members to less than half that today. The chamber cites dropping membership as the reason for the move to a smaller location.
The chamber also doesn’t need as much space now that the VIC is going online only.
Several residents have voiced their concerns about the closure of the VIC. Former DREAM director Vickie Mullen said the VIC generated huge amounts of people coming into downtown.
“It’s a tremendous loss not to have the information center in the heart of downtown,” Mullen said.
Mullen founded DREAM, a downtown revitalization organization, but resigned when she became unhappy with the direction it was taking.
Mullen said she is concerned the approximately $30,000 granted annually to the VIC might now get funneled back into the hands of the city.
The VIC has traditionally received this money from a lodging tax paid by hotels and motels and was its sole source of funding to promote tourism. It is unclear where that money will go after the change.
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