Why the fate of Lisle's tourism bureau is in doubt

 
 
Updated 9/9/2019 5:26 PM

The Lisle Convention & Visitors Bureau temporarily has closed its doors after the village went months without providing funding.

Lisle, meanwhile, has joined a countywide convention and visitors bureau and is moving ahead with plans to form a new not-for-profit corporation to promote its economic development and tourism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

For years, the village gave a large portion of its hotel tax dollars to the local convention and visitors bureau, which was created in 1991 to attract meetings and events that drew overnight visitors to Lisle.

However, some village trustees earlier this year questioned why Lisle was spending roughly $430,000 a year to support the bureau. The group stopped receiving checks from the village in May.

Diane Homolka, the bureau's executive director, said there were months of discussions about restoring the funding if the group expanded its mission to include economic development.

"We were all on board with it," Homolka said. "We were excited about it."

But despite meeting with village staff six times, Homolka said, no funding proposal was ever presented to the village board for consideration. Now the bureau doesn't have enough money to continue.

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"To date, the village has withheld $266,000 from the LCVB, which has caused us to cease operations and temporarily close our doors," bureau officials said Monday in a statement.

The group's board of directors has scheduled a special meeting Thursday "to determine the future of the organization moving forward."

In the meantime, the bureau is moving out of village hall. Its website also has been taken down.

Bureau officials said the decision to temporarily close was made after last month's village board meeting.

During the Aug, 19 meeting, trustees agreed to join the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau. As a member of the countywide organization, Lisle can take advantage of a new state law that lets DuPage municipalities without home rule spend up to 25 percent of their hotel tax dollars on "economic development or capital infrastructure" until Jan. 1, 2023.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Trustees last month also authorized the formation of the "Lisle Economic Development Partnership."

"Obviously, we want to continue the progress we're making in advancing economic growth in the village," Village Manager Eric Ertmoed said Monday.

He said the economic development group will help Lisle attract and retain businesses. Another part of its mission will be to generate overnight stays in Lisle's hotels.

"They will work in tandem with the DCVB (DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau)," Ertmoed said.

But the process of creating the economic development group won't be completed until next year.

"They have nothing in place," Homolka said. "We were the only entity that was marketing Lisle retail businesses, hotels and events. So once we're gone, they have nobody doing it."

Ertmoed said the village proposed a transition deal with the bureau, but, "We never got to a point where there was agreement."

Homolka said she believes village officials were "stringing us along" for months because "they want us to go away."

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