The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners will vote Wednesday night on a proposal to merge local conventions and visitors bureaus into one county-wide entity. The merger has been a contentious issue, especially in Ypsilanti.
During a public meeting last Thursday at the Riverside Arts Center, Ypsilanti resident and events promoter Andrew Clock was very critical of the change.
Clock says what he doesn't understand is that, “public input has been against the merger. Yet, the merger is moving forward.”
The proposed merger has created suspicion that tourism promotion in Ypsilanti and other areas of eastern Washtenaw County could be neglected.
Ypsilanti Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Debbie Locke-Daniel says the idea has been discussed previously, but a concrete plans began taking shape earlier this year.
Locke-Daniel says, “In January, it was more seriously attended to because of a letter that came from the hotel association [The Hotel and Motel Association of Washtenaw County] directed to the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners." She says the letter from the association asked county commissioners to look into the matter.
Locke-Daniel says her organization fought to remain separate, but in time it became clear that the merger was inevitable. She says,
“When you know you’re losing or you’ve lost you need to move forward in a positive way.”
Washtenaw County Commissioner Conan Smith says the board worked to ensure that Ypsilanti interests were respected. He says the final resolution requires that at least a quarter of the new tourism board's members will be from the Ypsilanti area. County Commissioners will vote on the merger Wednesday night.