Tourism looks at board evolution, FVA
Jamestown Tourism has an 11-member board of directors that meets monthly. A separate grant and executive board of officers meets separately with the responsibility to distribute grant and capital construction funds to organizations.
The evolution of the grant application and funding process has evolved and perhaps it is time to start talking about board definition and reorganization, said Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism. A survey of board members said the grant and executive board members felt more engaged than the full board members, he said.
“It’s really important that if we are going to bring these people to the table once a month that we ask them to be a part of something,” Swedlund said. “It will also help our office to be more strategic in its work.”
The options were to reduce the size of the board to one active body that does all the work, to keep borth boards but form committees on the full board for marketing and other tourism related projects, or to do a hybrid of both boards.
“This conversation could go on for a year,” Swedlund said. “These aren’t decisions that are made lightly by our agency.”
The board members discussed the Frontier Village Association and reports that the organization may be seeking a separate funding mechanism from the city of Jamestown, and its Facebook posts that mention Jamestown Tourism in a negative light.
“We want to be very clear that we work constantly to support the Frontier Village,” Swedlund said. “We also want to acknowledge that the way we do this work is evolving.”
Jamestown Tourism needs to be strategic about funding growth, and the evolutionary grant process is a focus on visitor experience, he said. Other agencies adjusted to an efficient and strategic model that has proved successful, he said.
The focus is on providing a better visitor experience that engages people at these sites, Swedlund said. The old model of just displaying things will not work today, he said.
There are 32 building museums in North Dakota. There needs to be a visitor experience that sets Frontier Village apart for the state tourism agency to market Jamestown, he said.
“In these last few years we have dedicated our time as an organization to working with each of these agencies to say this is our mission in terms of how we are moving forward, and then in the same context that we are building better and smarter grant structures to support that,” Swedlund said. “The evolution of these conversations is starting to come to fruition and what you are going to hear from this agency (FVA) in particular is that we are no longer supporting them.”
The opportunity to change the operation has not occurred, and so these same funding mechanisms haven’t happened, he said.
“We haven’t given up on them and we will continue to support them and we will continue to work with them in those evolutionary capacities,” Swedlund said. “But we know that if we’re going to invest these dollars they’ve got to build a stronger experience for visitors here, otherwise none of this matters.”