Chamber offering Welcome Center space to city

Chamber offering Welcome

Center space to city

Ray Scherer

The Hermann Area Chamber of Commerce is making an offer to the city of Hermann for use of the space that now contains the Welcome Center.

The chamber announced last Thursday that it intends to vacate the center, located in the old 1906 firehouse, after Dec. 31.

"We knew that our biggest challenge to serving ALL membership was the amount of resources we were committing to tourism and the Welcome Center," wrote chamber President Melissa Lensing in a weekly newsletter released on Dec. 10. "So today we notified the City that we will discontinue the operation of the Chamber Welcome Center on December 31, 2020. We are offering that space to the City to continue to serve visitors in the best possible location."

On Monday, Lensing told the Advertiser-Courier that the chamber's membership believes the space with the Welcome Center offers the current best use on behalf of the city's tourism efforts, rather than moving those services to the Amtrak depot on the riverfront.

"There will be details to work out on the welcome center space and its future, so we appreciate your patience and understanding," Lensing added to the members. She credited Welcome Center staff who have represented the chamber in recent years, greeting visitors to Hermann.

"You all have done a marvelous job!" she continued.

Lensing said the move comes as no surprise to the membership, as it has been a topic for more than the past year. The city's decision to end its partnership with the chamber over the website was not the reason, she said.

"There's not one factor involved" regarding the Welcome Center, said Lensing. The identification of the chamber's and city's customer bases played a role, she said.

Despite the loss of the center, the Hermann chamber will retain its presence in the building.

"The chamber has no intention of moving their offices," Lensing said. A grant funding use of the building stipulates that a nonprofit organization be housed there.

The chamber took possession of the building space in the firehouse in January 2017. The city's License Bureau also moved into the facility at the same time.

"There's no intention of closing down the License Bureau," she stated.

The hope remains that city officials will contemplate the chamber's offer.

"We wanted to make it available to the city," she said. "That is on the table."

Yet should the city decide not to take up the chamber's offer, then Lensing said there will be a consideration of relying on the space as part of the organization's long-range strategic plan.

"There's several ideas floating out there" that would exhibit support of the chamber and its membership, she continued.