Shirley Phillips Named Western Iowa Tourism Region Executive Director
The city of Emmetsburg and Wild Rose Casino and Resort had the pleasure of hosting the Western Iowa Tourism Region and Iowa Group Travel Association joint meeting on Wednesday. Members from 36 counties came to the community for the announcement of the new tourism director. Guests also had the opportunity to learn about fundraising methods and ways to find extra money for their individual organizations.
Palo Alto County was well represented with the attendance of Mayor Myrna Heddinger, Cecilia Miller for the County Board of Supervisors, Deb Hite for the Chamber of Commerce, all Welcome Center volunteers, Miriam Patton and Mary Barrick for the County Conservation Board, Mary Straub Lavelle for the Grotto of the Redemption as well as several staff of Wild Rose Casino.
The WITR board of directors and president, Julie Hering-Kent, announced Shirley Phillips as the new Executive Director. Phillips will officially begin her duties at the end of August as she replaces former and long-time director, Michele Walker.
“We have some new challenges ahead of us but I think we’re going to meet them and most of all, we want to carry on Michele’s good work for the region,” said Phillips. “I look forward to this and meeting with all of you. I was born and raised in western Iowa and have been with a lot of you for a lot of years.”
Phillips thanked the group and wished a smooth transition for everyone.
It was also announced that Shonna Bruno will remain with the organization and has been promoted to the title of Project Manager. New responsibilities for Bruno will include ad sales and new state contract projects.
Attendees gave self-introductions, which included their best idea for increasing budgets using alternative income sources. Leaders across western Iowa gave examples of how they raise money ranging from hotel/motel tax and tours of homes to some more unique fundraising ideas like paying for the removal of baby goats or toilets from your front lawn.
A collection of innovative ideas was gathered with group favorites including a 50-50 raffle, a no-bake bake sale, yard toilets, a one-day bike ride and a bi-way garage sale. A cash prize was awarded to the no-bake bake sale idea for receiving the most votes. This fundraiser encouraged people to get out their checkbooks and donate the value one would spend on ingredients and time it would take to hold a sale, eliminating baking altogether.
Hering-Kent described taskforce groups and encouraged members to sign up for a group. They include advertising led by Stacy Rosemore, education led by Elaine Farwell, membership led by Pat Hume and special projects led by Beth Lindquist.
Two representatives from the WITR will help establish grant guidelines for the $185,000 Iowa Tourism Grant Pool. Those selected were Shirley Phillips and Liz Birkel-Leddy.
The meeting concluded with a reminder to submit location bids for upcoming WITR meetings by August 30. It is a great opportunity for western Iowa leaders to visit your community.