Friday, August 27, 2010

Waller: ‘It’s a new day’

Chamber director says she supports new marketing group


By TREVON MILLIARD
Express Staff Writer

Carol Waller

Even though former Executive Director Carol Waller no longer leads the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, she said she'll be staying in the valley for now.

"This is a great place," she said, "and there are opportunities out there."

The bureau announced Waller's resignation—after 13 years on the job—on Tuesday, stating the change is part of a restructuring to coordinate with the newly formed Sun Valley Resort Area Marketing group.

The marketing board will take over all external marketing for the resort area, one of the longstanding functions of the bureau. The bureau has agreed to limit its services to event planning, business services for its 450 members and managing the visitor center in Ketchum.

Even though this change means a downsizing for the bureau, Waller said she supports it.

"I do think this is a new opportunity for the community," she said. "Change is good. It's a new focus. It's a new day. I know they'll commit to making it successful."

Waller and the bureau's board president, Rob Santa, have both repeatedly used the words "collaboration" and "integration" to describe the current relationship between the bureau and the marketing group, something that couldn't have been said just a few weeks ago. Sun Valley Mayor Wayne Willich, a strong supporter of the marketing group, had some words of advice for the bureau at the end of July when tensions were high.

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"The bottom line is we got the dough," Willich said in an interview. "And we're going to make the rules. My advice to them [the bureau] is play along and play nicely. And we'll all come out of this."

Sun Valley and Ketchum are planning to give a total of $800,000 to the marketing group—$400,000 each—and none to the visitors bureau for fiscal year 2011, a big change since the cities' contract with the bureau amounted to more than half its $1.1 million budget this year.

Waller said the extent of the bureau's voluntary downsizing remains to be seen. She said this conversation is ongoing between the bureau's board and the marketing group, a sentiment reiterated by Santa.

"There is definitely a role for the chamber-visitors bureau and its 450 business members," Waller said. "They're the backbone of this community."

As for Waller's resignation, she said it "made sense" because the restructuring no longer called for an executive director. And, she said, that is the only reason she stepped down.

"My commitment is to the community and making this transition as positive as possible," she said.

Trevon Milliard: tmilliard@mtexpress.com




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