Wood County EDC working with fewer hotel-motel occupancy funds to grant

By Larry Tucker
Posted 7/8/20

The Wood County Economic Development Commission discussed Hotel Occupancy Tax fund disbursements last Thursday.

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Wood County EDC working with fewer hotel-motel occupancy funds to grant


The Wood County Economic Development Commission discussed Hotel Occupancy Tax fund disbursements last Thursday. 

The chairperson of the committee is Alene Doggett from Mineola. Serving on the committee with Doggett are J.R. Simpson, Yantis; Ashley Unger, Mineola; Sam Scroggins, Quitman/Winnsboro area; Jim Berry, Holly Lake; Carolyn West, Lake Fork; and WCEDC Executive Director Roger Johnson. 

Doggett reported the fund did not have the funds anticipated.

“As it turns out we did not end up having that much money to distribute. We thought we had $50,000 and we ended up not having that. The budget says we have $30,730,” explained Doggett. “After we had already met and made decisions, we were forced to go back and make some adjustments. We actually saw 13 people and did have a no-show or two.”

Board member Vic Savelli expressed concerns.

“The dollars collected from taxes have to be spent to promote the county. I’m not aware of it ever being that low, in fact, last year it was like $70,000, unless we have fallen flat on our faces and nobody’s travelling,” Savelli noted. “My three places have been booked every single weekend solid. Based on the calls I am getting from people who have been looking all throughout the county trying to find lodging, I would say that taxes are going to be in good shape so I don’t know how we can only budget $30,000.”

Johnson added, “The coronavirus has come in and has just depleted everyone as far as their activities. It really hurts the chambers of commerce as they raise money for their events. Everyone has really suffered.”

Board Chairman Tom Keenan wants to take a deeper look.

“I think what we probably ought to do is not vote on it today and let’s take it to the executive committee and we will review it,” Keenan said. “There will be some disappointed people if there is not more available.”

Johnson reported the WCEDC has been actively promoting the Wood County COVID-19 Relief Fund. County commissioners approved $200,000 in relief for Wood County businesses.

“The first thing to do was going out and market with your radio, television and newspaper folks. We had interviews on three Tyler TV stations, and went to KMOO and the Wood County Monitor did a good job. KLTV and CBS-19 showed the segment several times,” Johnson said.

The Wood County Day in Austin in 2021 was discussed.

“We are fortunate here in Wood County to have good relationships already,” said board member Greg Hollen. “The intention is to travel to Austin for meetings early in the legislative session so we can get our faces, our comments and our concerns heard. What we think it will do is provide our members the opportunity to learn about advocacy and give them the opportunity to forge relationships with the senators and their staffs. The participation will allow the legislators themselves to hear and learn more about the needs for Wood County. It will be good for a lot of people who have never toured the capitol. We will try to put some time in there for sight-seeing and social experiences.”

Hollen said elected officials are already on board. 

“Our group here, the WCEDC, will get a lot of mileage and we are getting some support already from several officials who are saying come on down and we will work together a day for you with us, with our staffs, with some selected senior leaders in our government,” Hollen stated. “The earlier in the session is better. It’s not just something we just go down and take a photo. It helps our state legislators, senators, ag commissioner and those folks understand about Wood County.”

The board approved a motion to go forward with the development of Wood County Day.

The next meeting of the WCEDC is set for Aug. 6.