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Board approves partnership between Jamestown Tourism, chamber

Jamestown Tourism Executive Director Searle Swedlund submitted his resignation in August. His last day will be Sept. 9.

Searle Tourism-Chamber partnership 0830202.jpg
Jamestown Tourism Executive Director Searle Swedlund talks about what a partnership between Jamestown Tourism and the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commercer would look like.
Masaki Ova / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown Tourism Board of Directors unanimously approved on Monday, Aug. 29, a partnership between Jamestown Tourism and the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce. The board also unanimously approved ending the search process for an executive director.

Jamestown Tourism Executive Director Searle Swedlund submitted his resignation in August. His last day will be Sept. 9.

With the shared resource model, Emily Bivens, executive director of the chamber of Commerce, would assume the role of managing the two entities. Jamestown Tourism would have two staff members, one for marketing and the other for sites and working with all tourism sites.

Swedlund and Bivens discussed Monday, Aug. 29, how a partnership would look like between Jamestown Tourism and the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce.

Swedlund said Jamestown Tourism’s operating expenses will increase. He said Jamestown Tourism’s overall operating expenses budget has been “relatively flat.”

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Jamestown Tourism is a publicly-funded entity and receives funds from hospitality taxes and the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. In 2022, Jamestown Tourism received $336,000 in hospitality taxes and $75,000 from the JSDC.

Swedlund’s PowerPoint presentation reported Jamestown Tourism’s revenues in 2012 were more than $509,000, about $405,000 in 2019 and $455,340 in 2022. Expenditures were about $449,000 in 2012, $398,000 in 2019 and about $433,000 for 2012.

With a partnership with the chamber, the revenues would increase to $526,000 with expenditures at $495,000.

The chamber receives its revenue fro membership fees, the North Dakota Department of Motor Vehicles fees and committees and events. In 2022, the chamber received $135,00 from memberships, $225,500 from DMV fees and $60,000 from committees and events.

Swedlund said with the shared resources model, the cost and duties would be shared for the executive director and marketing positions. All employees under Jamestown Tourism would become employed by the chamber.

“Our overhead goes up because we are saving money on a FTE (full-time equivalent employee) but more importantly, we are adding another person to our operation and we can increase salaries (and benefits) for the people we value,” he said.

Bylaw and board structures for both entities will change. Jamestown Tourism will retain a five- to nine-member board, while the chamber retains a nine- to 11-member board.

An executive committee with two members from each group will also be formed.

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Swedlund said Jamestown Tourism will retain its 501(c)6 status. Bivens said keeping the 501 status is important.

He said a shared resource agreement will need to be drafted for each entity to sign.

In other business, the board unanimously approved:

  • adding members Nick Bruns, Frank Balak and Paulette Ritter to the transition task force. The transition task force will hire and develop job descriptions for the executive director, assist the executive director to create new job descriptions, review budgets and determine how the staff will function short term and long term. 
  • a contract of 100 hours at a rate of about $42 per hour for Swedlund to finish his work for Jamestown Tourism after he leaves.
Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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