Another proposed bill. Another proposed bill weighted against Northern Michigan.
Senate Bill 1068 (Sen. Ken Horn, R – Frankenmuth) would create a Large Special Event Fund in the state treasury with the goal of allowing local and regional Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) to apply to the fund in an effort to attract a large or special event to their market area.
The legislation is an attempt to overcome a disadvantage Michigan has with attracting large events – like a Super Bowl, Olympics, or NCAA Championship events. Events that bring in large amounts of visitors from out of state, and can be a boon to local small businesses before, during and after the event. Very few would disagree that having world-class events like that aren’t a benefit to the state.
The problem we believe is the out-of-state visitor thresholds required to apply for the fund (5,000 out-of-state visitors for Detroit, 1,500 out-of-state visitors for Grand Rapids, and 900 out-of-state visitors for other CVBs in the state – including northern Michigan CVBs) are clearly designed to make it challenging for any smaller market community to access the fund.
For example, while 5,000 people may seem like a lot, Detroit’s regional hotel room capacity to hold visitors is likely near 100,000 rooms, if not more. Sault Ste. Marie’s capacity is around 1,100. That means that in order for the Soo to qualify for an event, it would need nearly as many out-of-state guests as it has total capacity to hold all guests for an event. That doesn’t seem like a fair ratio.
Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance Director of Government Relations Kent Wood testified in Lansing on September 6th in front of the Senate Committee on Economic Development and International Investment.
Citing the Chamber Alliance’s moto of “One Size Does Not Fit All,” Wood asked legislators to work with the Alliance to craft the bill in a way that would truly allow communities and CVBs in all market sizes to compete for events that fit with the abilities and capacities of that market area. Amendments could include either lowering the 900 out-of-state threshold to a lower number, including a fourth lower limit or developing another metric that takes into consideration a community’s capacity to hold visitors.
Click Below to view the letter sent to legislators: