Split vote as DuPage approves spending for tourism bureau

While DuPage will continue to financially support the countywide tourism bureau, county board support for the arrangement isn't unanimous.

DuPage County Board members voted 13 to 4 this week to provide $50,000 to the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau. The rare split vote came after some board members questioned why the county is making the annual contribution.

County board members Janice Anderson and James Healy said they opposed the resolution because there's no indication the money is being used to support towns that have their own convention and visitors bureau, including Naperville, Lisle and Aurora.

"We're spending county dollars," Healy said, "but yet we don't know if it has any impact on our constituents."

Healy and Anderson represent county board District 5, which includes parts of Aurora, Lisle, Naperville and Warrenville. The other no votes came from Tim Elliott and the board's lone Democrat, Elizabeth Chaplin.

Anderson said she wants to make sure the tourism bureaus are working in sync.

"I want more cooperation," she said. "If we're going to spend the money, I want it to be a holistic thing where they're working together."

Beth Marchetti, executive director of the county bureau, said the group is trying to represent all 38 communities in DuPage.

"I get that Naperville has a wonderful product offering, but so do our other communities," Marchetti said. "We really do try to work together collaboratively because we're going to have to become competitive."

Despite the issues raised by some board members, most say the $50,000 contribution is paying off for the county.

DuPage is home to the second-largest tourism industry in the state, featuring hundreds of businesses employing nearly 23,000 people. Tourism has a $2.5 billion impact on the county's economy.

Last year, the bureau launched a new brand and strategic plan for tourism that involves marketing the county without emphasizing that Chicago is just 20 miles away.

"I think it's a little shortsighted to worry about $50,000 when this organization is bringing in national events every year," board member Jim Zay said. "They do a ton of it with the juggernaut of the city of Chicago and Cook County next to us."

Zay said the money is "a drop in the bucket "compared to what Cook and Chicago are spending on tourism.

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