Recognizing the benefits the tourism industry provides our communities with, the Sikeston-Miner Convention and Visitors Bureau was established by the two cities through an "Agreement for Cooperative Funding and Management of Tourism Marketing" in 1997, opening its office in November of that year.
The CVB is funded by a 4-percent lodging tax initiated in October 1996 after being approved by the voters of both cities in August 1996, and is governed by a five-member Tourism Commission.
The Commission is made up of two representatives from the Miner Board of Aldermen, two from the Sikeston City Council and a representative from the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce. Presently these seats are held by Frank Tatum and Betty Barnes of Miner; Sue Rogers and David Teachout of Sikeston and Cheryl Krebs, SACC board member and Tourism Commission chair.
Citizens who would like to have an active role in the CVB have the opportunity to do so on the nine-member Advisory Board.
Each city appoints four representatives, with Sandra Mock, Lisa Neumeyer, Dale Frame and Nora Springs filling those roles for Miner and Cindy Friend, Judy Buck, Jim Bucher and Mike Ziegenhorn doing so for Sikeston.
The Advisory Board also includes one appointee from the Sikeston Jaycees, a position presently occupied by Jon Gilmore.
Appointees were originally limited to serving two two-year consecutive terms, but the agreement was amended earlier this month by both cities to allow Miner's representatives to remain on the board without term limits.
"We don't have the population of Sikeston," Mayor Frank Tatum said during the Miner Board of Aldermen's regular meeting Oct. 14. "We don't have the pool of citizens to work with that they do.
Also serving on the Advisory Board as non-voting members are staff members from each city - presently Linda Lowes for Sikeston and Deloris Smith for Miner - as well as the SACC executive director, Missy Marshall.
The Advisory Board and its subcommittees play an important role, most recently setting the CVB's goals for 2004-2005 and updating the CVB's Visitors' Guide. The guide is updated to include all current listings for restaurants, lodgings, and regional attractions for each new printing, with printings being produced every couple of years as numbers run low.
The CVB is preparing to print 20,000 updated guides with half of the cost to be covered with a Missouri Division of Tourism cooperative marketing grant, according to Lowes.
"They are distributed throughout the state and the region to entice people to come to Sikeston," Lowes said. The guides are also used by visitors once they arrive to help them find places to eat and hotels during their stay.
While Sikeston may not have enough attractions to make it a destination in most cases, "we see ourselves as a hub," Lowes said. "We provide the restaurants and lodgings for people visiting Big Oak Tree State Park, the Charleston Dogwood-Azalea Festival, the New Madrid Museum - places like that. They stay here then visit all the attractions."
Sikeston and Miner do have their attractions, however: Miner has Lambert's Cafe, and Sikeston has the Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo, the National Golf Association's Hooters Golf Tour and other events.
"November 2-3 the soccer tournament is coming to town," Glenn said. "We will have guests and visitors from all over the state and contiguous states."
With events like these, the CVB's staff and board and commission members look for ways to encourage business owners to prepare by increasing staffing for the additional customers and sprucing up their facilities to present the best lasting impression possible.
Another event the CVB is looking forward to is a "hog rally" for motorcyclists set for September 2005 in Cape Girardeau, which the CVB hopes to provide "backup" for.
"They anticipate over 3,000," said Glenn, "and they don't have enough lodging."
As the events follows close on the heels of the annual Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo, "we'll keep our hotels full for two months," Lowes predicted. "And our restaurants will be happy, too."
Sikeston gives 100 percent of their tourism tax collections to the CVB with Miner matching Sikeston's contribution by giving up to 25 percent of their monthly collections.
There are only two hotels and a bed and breakfast in Sikeston while Miner has eight hotels and a recreational vehicle park. "What Miner collects is much more than Sikeston," said Glenn.
The amount brought in by the tourism tax varies greatly with months depending on events. "It really does have quite a range," Glenn said.
The cities contribute just under $100,000 per year which is subsidized by grant funding through the Missouri Division of Tourism.
"Without those grant dollars we would be very limited in our advertising," said Glenn. "So its very important we don't cut out those grants."
Miner's remaining 75 percent is set aside for capitol improvements for the city. Voters in Miner will decide Nov. 4, however, whether they wish to change their distribution so that 75 percent is split with 35 percent going toward capital improvements and 40 percent toward the general revenue fund.
This is the fourth in a series of articles on area government boards, commissions and committees.