Proposal to Restructure Economic Development /Creation of Tourism Program

January 3, 2002;  (Revised January 22, 2002)                                        Exposure Draft  

Background:  Last year, on September 17th, 2002, the board received the recommendations of the Tourism Task Force.  Those recommendations were straightforward:  

·         Create a central point for planning and tourism coordination for Fauquier

·         Create a Fauquier County Tourism Advisory Council and a Fauquier County Department of Tourism

·         Recommend an approach to establish a tourism assessment for Fauquier.

The board received the recommendations and I was instructed to develop a more fully-fleshed proposal.    

Proposal Elements:

  1. Create a Fauquier County Tourism Advisory Council, with membership to include representatives from the Warrenton-Fauquier Chamber, the Marshall Business and Residents Association, the Remington Community Partnership, the Plains Business Association, the Partnership for Warrenton, members of the Heritage community* including the Mosby Foundation and the Afro-American Historical Association, and a representatives of the Agriculture and Winery communities.   Other key events/players such as Gold Cup Association, Airlie, Marriott, Southern Fauquier Business Owners Association, the Fauquier Fair, and Parks and Rec, should also have representation.  The Council would form a structured round table, tasked to meet quarterly to coordinate tourism efforts in Fauquier.  Its objectives would be, in order of priority,
    1. to develop a tourism assessment for Fauquier;
    2. to coordinate events and tourism planning;
    3. to set priorities for tourism development, to include an emphasis on development of heritage tourism in Fauquier

The nature of the Council should be geographically and organizationally inclusive; however, in order to have not unwieldy membership numbers, its membership should be limited to no more than 15, with equal involvement by all regions of the county.     

  1. Restructure the Department of Economic Development to add a focus on tourism.   The duties and responsibilities of that department are currently focused on business retention and development, with an emphasis on five sectors as stipulated by the Fauquier County Economic Plan, the sectors being tourism, agriculture, low-impact industry, non-profits and technology.   Given the emphasis on business retention in conjunction with limited staff resources, and given the lack of available industrial sites with adequate water and sewer for traditional business development, it makes sense for the Department of Economic Development to focus on tourism—an arena for which considerable resources are extant in Fauquier, and a sector which offers rich development potential, unlike other sectors at this time.

Restructuring proposals are two-fold:  #1, if adequate funding resources exist, hire a part-time Tourism Coordinator.  #2, if those resources don’t exist, task the County Economic Development Director to focus on tourism for the coming year in addition to his work on business retention.    The Tourism Coordinator or such designee should have as his/her primary task support of the Tourism Advisory Council, coordination for events and development of tourism opportunities.  Note:   Given budget exigencies this year, we need to be careful about any department expansion. 

Currently much good work is ongoing in the Economic Development Department in terms of business development, communication with state economic development agencies, and coordination with local economic development entities (Partnership for Warrenton, Remington Community Partnership, the Warrenton-Fauquier Chamber, Vint Hill EDA).   

That coordination needs to continue; if proposal #2 is selected by the board, the Director of Economic Development should develop a program of work for tourism, to include support of a County Tourism Advisory Council, that recognizes realistic time work limits. 

*Note:  Heritage Tourism should be a primary focus of the Advisory Council; success in development and planning requires a structured, knowledgeable group representative of all the Heritage preservation entities in Fauquier.  Thus it is my recommendation that the Heritage community should have its own committee, to meet quarterly, established as a subcommittee of the Tourism Council.  That committee should be modeled on the Historic Resources Committee, which included representation of all geographic regions and major heritage organizations within Fauquier.  A spokesperson for that subcommittee would then serve on the Tourism Advisory Council.   

The Historic Resources Committee reviewed and made recommendations for preservation in Fauquier, to include development of Heritage tourism.  While its recommendations went beyond the scope of the proposed Tourism Council, to include such items as an historian for Fauquier County government, the Historic Resources Committee’s overall goal of preservation goes hand in hand with development of Heritage tourism. It would be appropriate for the Historic Resources Committee to also provide informational support for the County ARB and Planning Commission, as requested, as part of its core mission. 

Tourism Coordination Issues:

Currently the Fauquier Chamber serves as the “keeper” of the Warrenton- Fauquier Visitors Center.  This report recommends that no change occur in that designation/liaison at this time.   Many issues regarding visitors center planning need to be resolved; and the Chamber is currently re-evaluating its role under new leadership.    

The above-proposed structure seeks to achieve consistency in volunteer structures and coordination through an on-going program less subject to leadership changes than under the current non-profit scenario.  Furthermore, the proposal involves current players and provides a mechanism for consistent communication and tourism growth, with only minimal expansion of government resources, through use of the committee structure.     

In the past the Fauquier Chamber has more than amply served the role, indeed has been the leader of tourism initiatives in Fauquier.   However, if Fauquier is to develop a professional, comprehensive tourism program, building on the successes of the past, we will need larger community involvement and additional resources.  It is unfair to rely on one organization to be a one-stop shop.    

                                                                                Respectfully submitted,

                                                                                                Sharon Grove McCamy