Report from Maureen Riedy, President of Visit Lake County - Convention and Visitors Bureau update.
Mr. Riedy thanked the Board for their time and stated she was making a brief presentation, followed by Gurnee Mills, Six Flags, and KeyLime Cove.
She then outlined the mission of the Bureau to market the County as a premier destination and thereby, increase visitor spending and overnight hotel stays. These activities directly contribute to the economic vitality of the Village.
She stated the Bureau is mainly funded by State grants, which are matched by revenue from 12 community partners in Lake County, as well as co-op advertising programs. The state grant funding increased almost 6% compared to the prior year.
Ms. Riedy then discussed how the Bureau uses the following strategies to attract visitors:
Develop seasonal advertising campaigns.
E-Marketing & Social Media, Public Relations.
Website, Mobile Site, Travel Publications.
Visitor Information - Tourism kiosks, Navy 800#.
Group Sales: prospect for new business & issue leads, attend client trade shows, conduct sales trips & client site tours.
She then discussed how the Bureau uses its various marketing, public relations and social media tools to promote the County. She stated the Bureau regularly partners with organizations to promote attractions. Within the past few years, the focused has shifted to social media campaigns.
Ms. Riedy then discussed the ever-increasing importance of sporting events. She stated these events bring a lot of people to the area eat, shop, dine, and stay in the communities, specifically Gurnee.
Ms. Riedy then presented the following statistics regarding tourism in Lake County. She stated the Bureau is now receiving the information for both northern and southern Lake County, which provides more accurate information as it relates to Gurnee:
Growth in Hotel Business
Lake County North Hotel Performance (thru September, 2013)
Hotel Occupancy: 62.8% +.8%, 62.3% in 2012
ADR: $80.84: +2.5%, $78.85 in 2012
Rev Par: $50.75: +3.3%, $49.11 in 2012
Room revenue: +5.7%,
Rooms available: +2.3%
Rooms sold: +3%
Travel Spending Increasing
Economic Impact of Tourism in Lake County:
$1.16 billion in travel spending & 10,120 jobs.
$25.5 million in local taxes.
$70.9 million in state taxes.
Increased nearly 5% in 2012.
She stated Lake County was #3 in the State in terms of tourism spending, behind Cook and DuPage counties.
Upon completing her presentation, Ms. Riedy introduced
Mr. Randy Ebertowski – Gurnee Mills General Manager.
Mr. Ebertowski stated a lot has happened in the last year at Gurnee Mills, including Macy’s and the full-price wing opening. He continued to say the Mills has had a variety of key personnel changes over the past year. In addition, the mall has installed new monument signs, way finding signs, as well as a new sign Tollway sign for the shopping center. He stated the new signs are easier to read and more professional looking.
He then reviewed a number of new retailers that have been added to the mall. He stated the feedback from customers has been excellent. Mr. Ebertowski stated Forever 21 is scheduled to open this weekend and will be a new anchor store for the facility. He stated each renovation includes a variety of upgrades to improve the visual appeal of the corridors.
He concluded his presentation by reviewing stores that a coming soon, including the Lego store, Tilleys, and Red Mango. He also reviewed a rendering of the upcoming food court renovation.
Mr. Ebertowski concluded by saying that the Bureau had been a great resource in promoting Gurnee Mills and complimented the Bureau’s team for their creativity and success.
Mayor Kovarik asked about the location of the mirror maze. Mr. Ebertowski stated it will be located by TJ Maxx.
Mayor Kovarik then asked about Thanksgiving. Mr. Ebertowski stated the mall will open at 8:00pm on Thanksgiving and stay open until 10:00pm the following day. He stated they are working closely with the Police Department to ensure it’s a safe and enjoyable experience for shoppers. Mayor Kovarik this is partially to combat the sales lost to Internet shopping.
KeyLime Cove Indoor Water Park and Resort
Mr. McFarlane spoke briefly about KeyLime Cove. He stated a new management company took over on July 2013 at the resort. He stated the resort has a staff of over 500 employees that contribute to the local economy.
He continued to review recent improvements including a new slip floor to improve safety. He stated going forward the resort is looking at strategies to attract more wedding parties and family reunions. He stated they are looking to expand the outdoor courtyard. This should result in the resort being able to accommodate dinners of up to 450 people.
Mr. McFarlane said the partnership with the Bureau has been great and yielded great results for the resort. He stated KeyLime is having an excellent year and 2014 is looking very promising.
He concluded by stating the resort has a great staff that is regularly recognized by hotel associations. He stated his staff has been recognized by these organizations more than any other hotel in the state of Illinois.
Six Flags Great America
Mr. Salemi thanked the Village Board for giving him a chance to update the Board. He echoed the comments by Gurnee Mills and KeyLime Cove as it relates to the excellent working relationship with the Visitors Bureau.
Mr. Salemi said the company is performing very well. He stated the third quarter of 2013 is the best third quarter ever. He stated the Park is the largest gated tourist attraction in the State of Illinois. He said a lot of these guests come from out of state; therefore, the Park focuses its marketing on a 150 mile radius around Gurnee.
He stated the new Goliath coaster he believes will be the best coaster addition in the history of the Park. The coaster is the tallest, steepest and fastest wooden roller coaster on the planet. It will be located in the former Iron Wolf area and opens in the Spring of next year.
Mayor Kovarik thanked everyone again for attending.
Trustee Balmes asked if the interior of KeyLime’s reception area will be remodeled. Mr. McFarlane stated the majority of the improvements will take place outside, with some remodeling on the interior spaces.
Trustee Balmes then asked how the BMW Championship golf event impacted Gurnee. Ms. Riedy stated the event was good for the entire County.
Report from Darrell Blenniss Jr., Executive Director Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency – Expansion update and summary of changes to Water Agency Agreement, Water Purchase and Sale Contract and Admissions Agreement.
Mr. Blenniss stated he was before the Board a year ago to update the Board. He stated the reason the Agency entertained expansion was to reduce rates for current members. He continued to say the Agency has excess capacity to provide water to additional members. As a part of the expansion process, some key documents needed to be updated. This includes the Agency Agreement, Water Sale and Purchase Agreement, By Laws, and a new Admissions Agreement.
He stated a majority of the changes are clean up items. However, the Admissions Agreement is new and outlines the terms of new members joining the Agency. He stated the north group will pay $31 million in connection fees. He continued to say Charter Members will have uniform rates, while new members will have different rates tied to their connection fees. In addition, new members have a hard cap related to the amount of water available to them, while the Charter Members do not. This protects the water amounts available to Charter Members. Mr. Blenniss stated Charter Members need to approve the amended agreements by December 5th as the County is working to create a Special Service Area and issue bonds in order to move the process forward.
Trustee Ross stated the quality of the water from the Agency is excellent. She then asked for an update on Wauconda. Mr. Blenniss stated he was directed to find a way to get water to Volo and contact alternate communities to replace Wauconda.
Mr. Blenniss stated another benefit to Gurnee is a potentially another connection point for the Village. Mayor Kovarik stated this would great for the community.
Trustee Balmes asked what the Board composition would be once new communities join. Mr. Blenniss outlined how the communities move from Participants to Full Members.
Trustee Garner asked what new members would do with their current water supplies. Mr. Blenniss stated that is up to them, but he would hope they will keep them functioning for emergency purposes.
Trustee Garner then asked if the allocations are enough to provide water to the new communities. Mr., Blenniss stated yes and that allocations are adjusted periodically, and allocations can go up or down based on demand and populations.
Trustee Garner asked what impact this will have on Lake Michigan levels. Mr. Blenniss said the levels are cyclical in nature. Mayor Kovarik stated that more water evaporates of the Lake daily than all the communities pulling water from the Lake use.
Trustee Balmes asked how water will be delivered to Volo. Mr. Blenniss stated it may be provided through another community, which is a common practice among water agencies across the nation.
Mr. Muetz stated these agreements need to be approved by the Board before December 5th, so they will be on a November Village Board agenda. Therefore, if there are questions, they should be forwarded to staff as soon as possible.
Trustee Wilson asked for clarification on rate relief. Mr. Blenniss provided additional information on rate relief. He stated he can spread more gallons of water over fixed costs, thereby allowing the Agency to reduce the rates for Charter Members. He also stated, the revenue from new members will help support capital improvements that will eventually be needed regardless. Through this arrangement, new members are helping to fund these improvements, thereby reducing the liability for Charter Members.