Burlington, News

A chamber in transition

Organization undergoing change as it becomes chief tourism partner for city

By Jason Arndt

Transition periods bring both a beginning and end of an era as well as massive changes.

For the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce, which will fully rebrand itself Experience Burlington in 2023, the group has undergone a series of changes within the last year.

Changes include an increased presence on social media, becoming the chief tourism partner for the Burlington area with the City of Burlington, allocating room tax dollars to the agency, as well as a new executive director.

Executive Director M.T. Boyle, who began her tenure last month, acknowledges the transition period has been a bit overwhelming considering the chamber’s transformation.

However, Boyle has seized the opportunity, learning more about the Burlington business community.

“One of the big things that we are working on, obviously, is the rebranding to Experience Burlington,” she said. “With that, we have this super-cool website that is behind it that is going to be transformational not only for the community and our residents, but our businesses.”

The new website, which has not been unveiled, will allow the chamber as well as businesses more flexibility to present information to the community.

“They will be able to highlight their businesses even more,” Boyle said.

Additionally, the chamber tabbed a marketing agency to help highlight the Burlington community and its businesses.

Boyle said the marketing initiatives will showcase “how cool Burlington is” to residents, businesses, and visitors to the community.

While Boyle continues to assess the chamber, including resources available to visitors and residents, she credits an energetic board of directors for their constant community engagement.

“The board has been phenomenal. We have some really talented and engaged new board members,” Boyle said. “It has been exciting, but it has been little overwhelming.”

Room tax responsibility
The City of Burlington recently decided to withdraw funding from Real Racine, also known as the Racine County Convention and Visitors Bureau, in favor of supporting the chamber through allocation of room tax dollars.

Under state law, municipalities must allocate 70% of room tax dollar to a local tourism entity, such as Real Racine or the chamber.

Previously, the city evenly distributed room tax dollars to both entities, but the recent decision allows 70% to be sent directly to the chamber.

As part of state law, room tax dollars need to be used for tourism purposes, such as promoting events.

Boyle said the city’s decision to distribute 70%, instead of the previous 35%, expedited the chamber’s transition period.

“I think when the city decided to put the trust in the chamber with the room tax dollars, I think it brought a sense of urgency because now we are going to be the tourism entity.,” she said. “That comes with a huge responsibility, not only to use room tax dollars wisely and thoughtful, but in a way that is really effective for our community.”

The room tax dollars can only be used for marketing purposes, funding special events and other tourism-related expenses.

In 2024, the chamber will eventually take control of four major events in the city, such as the annual Ice Festival in downtown Burlington.

“We are committed doing four major events a year, so those are on our docket,” Boyle said.

To read the entire story see the Feb. 16 edition of the Standard Press.

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