North Mecklenburg's three mayors formed a travel and tourism task force this month to establish a more unified vision for attracting visitors - and potentially more industry - to the Lake Norman region.
"As our economy has undergone numerous ups and downs in the past few years, so have the needs of our region, specifically in the northern Mecklenburg community," Davidson Mayor John Woods said. "Each of our towns has challenges as we plan future budget years."
The task force consists of a town commissioner and members of both the business community and area destinations from each of the towns.
The Cornelius Board of Commissioners, however, determined last week that the mission, goals and objectives of the task force need to be defined before the board could decide whether to become involved, town commissioner Jim Bensman said. "Accordingly, any such effort by Cornelius has been delayed until further notice," Bensman said in an e-mail.
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Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte said the group would work on a mission statement addressing the region's needs. It also might offer recommendations "for a more focused vision for our small business, destination and tourism entities....
"We realize that this is a comprehensive task, and that each of our towns may have unique needs in these areas, and we look forward to hearing their insights," Tarte said.
Visit Lake Norman, based at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce in Cornelius, receives money from Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville to support travel and tourism. Because of expected budget cutbacks, the mayors said they agreed that now is a good time to get fresh views on how to use that money.
"We've charged our staff and Visit Lake Norman with encouraging visitors to come to this area," Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain said. "But for all to be effective, it is important that we have specific goals.
"As we look at helping local businesses be more successful and try to recruit more international businesses than we ever have before, we decided that this would be the optimal time for a task force discussion," Swain said
Meanwhile, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce has arranged for a panel of speakers on travel and tourism to appear at a luncheon on Thursday at NorthStone Country Club in Huntersville.
Panelists will be Lynn Minges, assistant secretary of tourism, marketing and branding for the N.C. Department of Commerce; Mike Butts, executive director of Visit Charlotte; and Sally Ashworth, executive director of Visit Lake Norman.
They will address the financial benefit of travel and tourism for local residents and businesses. For instance, the Lake Norman Fall Classic Soccer Tournament in November attracted 6,800 people and generated at least $1.8million in visitor spending in the region, said Robert Reed, chairman of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber president Bill Russell said some residents might be surprised to learn that local visitor spending saves the average Mecklenburg County household $304 in taxes they might otherwise have to pay if not for the hospitality industry.
The luncheon is $15 per person. Reservations: 704-892-1922; firstname.lastname@example.org.