Chamber Of Commerce Funding Request Called Into Question

Posted 3 years ago

By Randy Picking

In a budget study session Thursday afternoon, Salina City Commissioners heard a pitch from Chamber of Commerce President Dennis Lauver about the return on the investment of the dollars the city gives to the chamber for economic development.

The first half hour of the meeting was behind close doors due to the confidential nature of the items of economic development being worked on by the chamber.

The Chamber is requesting $206,000 in funding for 2012, for economic development, and that would be close to a $10,000 increase over the funding for 2011. Lauver gave several examples of how the investment of city funding has benefited the city and has brought jobs to Salina.

Commissioner Barb Shirley pointed out that the City of Manhattan gives only $125,000, and Lawrence provides $200,000. Both significantly larger cities in comparison to Salina.

Lauver said efforts by the Chamber has brought jobs to Salina that were taken away from communities in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, and Indonesia.

As the study session was winding down, Commissioner Aaron Householter asked if the work that was done by Salina Downtown Inc. and the Chamber was redundant. Householter also asked if it was time “to admit that the Lee District was a failure” and downtown should be called downtown, not a district that is named for two empty windowless buildings.

Final budget decisions by the City Commission will come next month, with public hearings before a final vote is taken by the Commission on the 2012 budget.



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  • JBelt

    Why in the world should we give the chamber any money? And what jobs? With all of the financial troubles in this country/state, how can these fools be asking for more money??? WRONG! Should get $0.

    • Confused

      I would really like to know where these jobs are also! I have been trying to find a job for 6 months and haven’t even had an offer!

  • rhondad

    Sure seem to have money to bring in extravagant speakers. How bout cutting that out and spending it on economic development.

  • conservativemom

    $200k for what??????????? This is getting ridiculous!

  • Hunter

    The cost of speakers is mostly privately underwritten. If there is not going to be any funding for the Chamber, who is going to promote and market Salina to businesses – you? I doubt it. Go ahead and give them 0 and watch this community dry up. Salina needs to remain aggessive and promote. We have done a very good job of marketing and promoting without a lot of give-aways. That effort needs to continue. Those accusing people of being “fools” should take a good look in the mirror. Barb Shirley is out of bounds on this one.

    • caseyjo

      Wrong. Shirley hit the nail on the head. If the Chamber of Commerce in Manhattan and Lawrence don’t need that much taxpayer funding, then neither does ours.

      And kudos to Householr, the Lee District is stupid. Just call it downtown for gods sake.

    • John

      Even if the speaker’s fee is mostly underwritten they still appear in writing (ads) as brought in by the chamber. My only complaint is aside from Bob Costas a few years back the speakers are all political and all republican. Why does it have to be politicized?

  • brooke

    Where in the world did you read zero……. wow. Shirley made a comparission to other cities. Maybe you should take a look in the mirror.

  • hunter_is_a_shill

    Hunter is just a shill. Probably works at the chamber. We had to subsidize Menards, Philips Lighting, and how many others that provide crap jobs that they can cut at any moment they please.

    We don’t need a chamber of commerce to help us progress. And if they can’t get enough money from their members, then they aren’t doing a good enough job and should expire.

    • Kansas

      Well said!! I was thinking about the same thing. Hunter obviously works for the Chamber because of the way they worded there come back…
      They DO NOT need anymore money. They don’t spend what they do have correctly or there would be more work in Salina.
      And HECK no, why should they even get close to what kind of Money Manhatten and Lawrence get. 1). Both BIG name College towns, Salina is NOT. 2). The cities themselves are alot larger.
      DUH!!!!!!

  • Hannah

    What is the difference between us and Manhattan & Lawrence?? We do not have a college here that draws 25,000+ students a year!!! They also have more business that pay chamber dues!! Do you really believe that companies that are looking to expand just open a map and stick there finger on a city and say, “Salina is were we are going”?? To get new jobs to Salina, we HAVE to have someone out there promoting our city. We HAVE to have someone that is LOOKING for companes that want to expand. In todays economy, if we do NOT give tax breaks to companies they will go to other towns that WILL!!! BEFORE you start gripping about what you IMAGINE that the chamber is NOT doing, why don’t you volunteer with them and go out and SEE what they ARE doing. If you want Salina to STOP getting jobs of ANY KIND, then shut them down, or cut there funding. THEN you will have something to complain about!!!

    I do agree that the Lee District needs to combine with the chamber. They could run out of the same office. That would save money on rent and office personnel.

  • joe

    I believe our new president with the chamber and his staff have brought quite a bit to the table for Salina. Our old chamber pres. cost Salina a lot, many times. This car show this weekend brings many dollars to Salina through resturants, hotels, gas stations and many other retailers. Our community benefits 10 fold over events like this. As far as the Lee District, it was a dead horse the day it started, but there were to many politics involved in this mess. To many butt kissing people that said we had to have this. For you idiots out there who don’t think we need the chamber why don’t you step up to the plate and go look for more factories, retail businesses to come to town. Do you have the education and know how for this I dought it. I’m sure within any organization there is always a little fat that could be trimmed but to get rid of the chamber, you don’t have a clue to what it takes to support a city. let me guess you clowns out there complaining are probably the same people that buy off of the internet and not support the retailers in our community. Have a great day and get off your pissing pot.

    • Confused 1

      I’m sorry, but I love how in the sentence you are calling others uneducated, you misspelled DOUBT. Have a great day.

      • joe

        Interesting that of everything I had to say, you could only find one small misspell!! Must be great to be perfect like you! I am sure this will not be my only one today, unlike you, I am human.

        • Confused 1

          Usually I don’t say anything about spelling or grammer mistakes. I’m not perfect myself…never claimed to be. I do spell words wrong at times, sometimes because I don’t know, sometimes just typing error. I’m also not the one calling people uneducated. I do agree with what you are saying to an extent.

  • Jeeez

    I like the word shill. And it appears that the Chamber’s shills are out. I won’t say they are worthless, but there is no reason taxpayer funds should EVER go to the Chamber. Do a better job for your members and they’ll have more to give back.

    • Hannah

      PLEASE get some education on what a chamber of commerce does. The chamber promotes our CITY. It helps bring in jobs, conventions, and tourists. Busineses that want the chamber to promote them, pay dues so that when a company or event organizer calls looking for retail help, they are given that busineses name. They work with companies and individuals once they are here to help them get hotel’s meeting rooms or what ever they need. They do this IN our city. In turn, there are jobs created for the people of the city. $200,000 is a SMALL part of the chamber budget. The city gets MUCH MORE than that from the taxes that people pay when they come to these events or they get JOBS that are created due to these events. You should investige what the chamber does for this city and it’s people BEFORE you start trashing it!!!!

      • conservativemom

        You sure know a lot about what the chamber does (I wonder why….hmmm). How about you learn about our economy. Things are BAD, so anyone asking for an increase over last year is irresponsible at best.

        • Hannah

          I know about business because I am a business owner, I pay my chamber dues, and I SEE how much revenue the chamber helps to bring to this town. Cut the chamber and we as a city loose sales tax from the money the patrons bring in, bed tax from the hotels, walmart would loose sales, food, swimming pool, (less revenue, less taxes paid) all these places have people they employ, if sales are down, then fewer employees are needed. I believe we all need to cut back BUT we also need to be more aggressive in getting new businesses to town. To give you an idea, several years ago SCCA use to have there raceing nationals in Salina. When they left, they took there convention AND over 1 million dollars worth of money that they and there members use to spend in this town. We need the chamber to bring MORE stuff here, not cut there budget.

  • carly

    I remember the Chamber giving $1 million to Philips (who laid me off) for more ‘jobs’ and then they named the project of giving them money after their wives! NO SOUP FOR YOU!

  • Confused

    I don’t really understand. Why would the chamber get funding from the city? That doesn’t make sense. Are they a government organization? Confused.

  • Ernie

    Wow; the sheer ignorance displayed in the majority of these comments is shocking. Its unsettling to think this is representative of our citizens.

  • Korobeyniki

    I come to this site for the lulz. The articles are mostly copy and paste from other news sites, but it’s the comments that make it worthwhile. Keep arguing on the internet, you’re all making a difference!

    • Hannah

      We must be, we got you to at least read.

      • Korobeyniki

        I read plenty, thanks. The only difference your comments have made in my life are to make me chuckle a bit at my desk.

  • tsks

    The chamber should not have its funding cut but it shouldn’t expect an increase either. I believe they are doing a good job of bringing in events and shows that boost sales and taxes in this town. They are also actively looking at bringing jobs… Who do you think has been working with the potential AAR aviation jobs? As the recession begins to turn towards recovery that is when businesses that survived or thrived will be ready to make their expansion into new markets and add new jobs. This is the best time to use funds to recruit jobs to the city.

  • chamberfan

    Try finding a empty hotel room tonight or tomorrow night? Try finding a decent restaurant without a long wait tonight or tomorrow night? You wont be able due to the car show in town. That car show that brings huge money to the community of salina is in salina because of the assistance of your chamber of commerce. Make sure you know what the chamber does for you and your community before you go blabbing off at the mouth.

    • Kansas

      NO!! THey are in Salina just maybe because they have done so year after year and like it..I’m sure the Chamber doesn’t actively call them every year. Get REAL!!
      If they do such a fine job why is it the BI-Center sits empty 80% of the year????

      • chamberfan

        The chamber does not book events for the bi-center, get a clue. If you know so much about what the chamber does and does not do then maybe you should go and volunteer. They are looking for volunteers weekly for events they are asssiting with.

    • Stacey

      We have a Chamber that tries to attach their name to every project. Our Business Association, made up of long-time and new business owners donates tens of thousands of dollars to sponsor activities and we do a lot of leg work also. Our Chamber is no longer event oriented, but tries to stick its name to every event. Our car show has very little assistance from the Chamber but they make sure their name is at the top while everyone else is working like a dog to get it done. The car show also pays its own advertising, etc.

      • Stacey

        AND they only promote certain members. Is your Chamber in a City building, having all utilities, etc. paid by the city while being a 501(c)(3)? Do they do all the advertising for your city in AAA books, area publications, etc? These functions of the Chamber are really needed in a community. I cannot see why our Chamber would only allow Chamber members to advertise on a City map of the area that is handed out to tourists though. That should be open to everyone especially when our City pays a substantial portion of the Chamber budget for promoting our City!

  • Notachamberfan

    The Salina Area Chamber of Commerce is here for one reason – to help big businesses. I was a member years ago and received not one ounce of support. The chamber is only here to help the big boys like Kohls, Menards, Philips, Tonys.

  • GeeWhiz

    It is quite worrisome that that a private organization receiving taxpayer dollars and asking for more feels the need to meet “behind close doors due to the confidential nature . . .”. If we are paying for it, why isn’t the meeting open to public scrutiny???

  • http://www.PatriotActionNetwork.com Conservative

    I totally agree with GeeWhiz on the oen meeting issue.
    The big issue here though is taxpayers being robbed to fund a private club.
    This has got to stop.
    If the Chamber were doing its job effectively, they should be able to survive on their own merits without taxpayers’ subsidies.
    Eventually someone is going to come out with a study on the reality of what it will cost to live in Salina in the future if all these liberal entities get their fingers in the pot of taxpayers’ money.
    It is time to reel in out-of-control government spending starting at the local level and going al the way to DC.
    Taxes were originally initiated to sustain the operation of government and defense… never intended to benefit a few select individuals and prvate businesses.

    • Hannah

      You better do your math. If you cut the chamber, and we do not get new business and shows, then our revenue from these events will go down, that means less taxes collected from these visiting organazations. Less tax collected means to fund everything else, WE PAY HIGHER TAXES!! I am and owner of a small business, the chamber does A LOT to promote Salina and business in town. And YES they do work with shows like “Leadsled” every year to ensure they come back the next year. I would suggest thatConservative look into the chamber before you trash it. You do not have a CLUE about what you are talking about.