Dallas chamber, visitors centers set goals for future

Shelly Jones, left, the new events coordinator for the Dallas Area Visitors Center, started on Aug. 20.

Photo by Jolene Guzman
Shelly Jones, left, the new events coordinator for the Dallas Area Visitors Center, started on Aug. 20.

DALLAS — JD Shinn has high expectations for Dallas Area Chamber and Dallas Area Visitors Center for the remainder of the year.

The executive director of both organizations wants to regain 45 businesses as members of the chamber by the end of 2018, a goal he calls “lofty.”

Shinn said since the new events coordinator for the visitors center, Shelly Jones, started work, he’s had more time to discuss with former member businesses why they left the chamber. He said he wants to employ the chamber ambassador program for further outreach.

“That’s pretty insane, but we are navigating the how on that, to bring some of our ambassadors to re-establish those conversations with past members,” he said, “to talk to them about what have we done for you lately? What can we do more in the future?”

Shinn said chamber membership has been stagnant at 144.

Monday the boards of the chamber and visitors center organizations met for a strategic planning meeting.

Shinn said that included discussion about a future in which the visitors center loses all or some of the hotel tax money collected in Dallas to promote tourism. Now the city, through two contracts, gives the visitors center 100 percent of the money for tourism and event organization.

The city is in the process of creating a request for proposal so that the visitors center or other organizations can apply for a portion of that money. The city may keep some of the money and do work in-house.

Shinn said that the organizations can’t wait for the hotel tax money decisions to be made.

“We’ve got to simplify to grow and be able to do some things really well and not be stretched too thin. I’m looking forward to what happens in that strategic planning meeting,” Shinn said. “We are going to do about four hours together and get some good direction about where we want to be in 2019.”

Jones replaces Bonnie Dreier, who resigned last month, as the visitors center events coordinator. She began on Aug. 20 and is considered a temporary employee at this point.

“She’s on as a temp while we do strategic planning,” Shinn said during his regular visitors center update to the Dallas City Council on Aug. 20. “I hope to continue her on in a marketing role.”

Jones formerly worked for Polk County CASA. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communication and a minor in training and development, and an MBA in organizational development from Marylhurst University. She’s worked with nonprofit organizations, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the National Kidney Foundation. Jones has several years of chamber of commerce experience in membership and marketing. She’s filled in as an interim chamber director in the past.

“It came down to two main candidates, and Shelly won out because of her experience with chambers and doing events,” Shinn said last week. “She has been soaking up information, completing tasks that are surprising to me,”

That includes beginning set-up for Winterfest and processing vendor applications for the annual Christmas kick-off event.

Jones said her first week has been busy, but fun.

“There’s a lot to learn but I think jumping in and sink or swim is a great way to learn,” she said. “The stars aligned. It was good fit to help out the chamber.”

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