SHOW LOW – The Show Low City Council passed a motion, 6 — 0, on June 16 to renew the agreement with the Show Low Chamber of Commerce for the next 90-days. But there is a caveat.

Show Low Chamber board president speaks at council meeting

“I want to come with some solid ideas from the board and come back before the council,” Show Low Chamber board president Dalilia Edwards said during the June 16 regular council meeting. “I think the TIC is a wise investment and it has value.”

The council voted to amend the agreement in a way that allows the city an out with 30 days notice if the Chamber isn’t providing value to the city. The funding for the next 90 days (July 1 – September 30, 2020) is approved but the city can still exit the agreement if they feel “improvements” are not made to the Tourist Information Center (TIC).

Councilor Gene Kelley summarized the discussion before the council made a motion and voted. “I support to maintain this [TIC] with it understood that we can pull the plug on a 30 day notice instead of a 90 day notice,” summarized councilor Gene Kelley. “We can bail in 30 days.”

The action to amend the agreement occurred during the regular meeting and was an item on the lengthy consent calendar that included 15 items.

It was one of only a handful of consent items that spurred discussion and action.

The mutual agreement between the city and the Show Low Chamber of Commerce has existed for many years and is renewed quarterly. The Chamber will receive $14,375 for July -Sept. These funds are to operate the Chamber’s Tourist Information Center.

Prior to voting, several council members had questions about the efficacy of the Chamber in light of recent changes in staffing including the resignation of Executive Director Jimmy Applegate.

Councilor John Leech Jr. was the first to share frustration with what he described as the Chamber’s need for improvement and “direction.”

“I guess the problem and the biggest heartache I have about this is that we’ve put it off and put it off,” said John Leech Jr. of the pending contract renewal. “We’ve given them extension after extension for something that the Chamber’s going to do for us for the money that we are going to allocate for them.”

“I just think, with Covid going on and a lot shutting down, what can they do for us in the next three months that we can’t do for ourselves?," asked Leech Jr. “I think we should have input from the council more than anything.”

Chamber board president Dalilia Edwards was in attendance to answer questions and assured the Council that the search for a full-time replacement director would begin immediately.

“What is your vision for the TIC and how will the board make this a more productive partnership with the city?” asked Councilor Connie Kakavas.

Edwards assured the council that a strategy and vision for the Chamber was a “top priority” on the Chamber’s upcoming board meeting agenda.

Edwards, who has a long history of involvement with the Chamber, volunteered to work four business days in the TIC. She rolled up her sleeves, took calls and greeted and assist incoming visitors. She shared details about about the variety of services provided by the Chamber, especially during the tourist (summer) season in Show Low.

She noted that a significant number of walk-in visitors are retired or elderly so they prefer gathering information in person versus digitally. “We do quite a bit of work during this time of year,” reported Edwards. “We had 155 people walk into the Chamber in one day last week.”

“I believe there is still a place of value and a place for the TIC to partner with the city,” Edwards reiterated. “This is definitely a hot item with the board,” she assured the council in reference to their request for a new, more effective service model.

Mayor Daryl Seymore asked Edwards to present the Chamber’s improvement strategy at the next council meeting on July 21.

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Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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