The Convention and Visitors Bureau: a troubling lack of transparency, accountability, and performance

I’ve been trying to grasp the nature of the Northfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), starting with my blog post in early April which included some of my whining about the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce, followed by our podcast a few weeks later with new Chamber Board member Mary Rossing.

Kathleen 'Mac' McBride Kathy Feldbrugge

At last night’s City Council meeting, City of Northfield Finance Director Kathleen ‘Mac’ McBride (left photo) gave a brief overview of the legal and financial structure of the CVB. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathy Feldbrugge followed with 20-minute speech to the Council.

I spoke at open mic, followed by former City Councilor Dave DeLong.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes, 45 sec. Or drag the slidebar to these minute-markers:

0-1:15 – Kathleen McBride
1:15-21:00 – Kathy Feldbrugge
21:00-26:15 – Q&A with Council (Pokorney, Davis, Vohs, Lansing)
26:15-30:15- Griff Wigley
30:15-30:45 – Dave DeLong

Here are my photos of some relevant CVB documents. Click to enlarge.

CVB-1987-agreement-p1 CVB-1987-agreement-p2 CVB-1987-agreement-p3CVB-policies-procedures-2004
Docs 1-3: The 1987 agreement between the City and the Chamber. Right: the 2004 CVB Policies and Procedures

CVB-Feb-2008-Balance-Sheet CVB-March-2008-Balance-Sheet CVB-budget-comparison-06-08
Left: Feb. 2008 CVB balance sheet
Center: Mar. 2008 CVB balance sheet
Right: 2006-2008 CVB budget comparison

My laundry list of complaints:

  • The Chamber’s web site has virtually no information about the CVB as an entity, nor does the City’s website, other than the municipal code. No minutes, no financials, no year-ends.
  • Kathy offered to verbally explain the financial statements but would not give me paper or PDF versions. I got paper versions from Mac. I understand that the Chamber is a private non-profit and need not share its financials with me. But the CVB exists at the discretion of the City so its financials should be readily available.
  • Why does the CVB have $150-175,000 in unspent money? With a budget of $80-90,000 per year, how have they accumulated that much?
  • Why is there $120-133K of money in a savings account, presumably earning a paltry interest rate?
  • Why are none of the 2008 CVB goals actually measurable goals? They’re all just activity statements, eg, “respond to… coordinate… support… provide” etc.  The U of MN has a tourism center and on this Q&A page are several suggestions about tourism accountability.
  • Kathy said she doesn’t have traffic stats for the CVB’s tourism website, VisitingNorthfield.com. But any web host can give basic traffic stats, so they should have 2.5 years of stats to share. Google Analytics, a sophisticated web traffic analysis tool, is free, and would take the Chamber’s webmaster 30 minutes to install.
  • Other than adding info on new businesses that serve tourists, VisitingNorthfield.com has not changed since it was created in October of 2005. (See the Internet Wayback Machine’s capture of the site.) Yet there was $800 of web/internet-related expenses in 2007. Web hosting should cost no more than $7/month for a brochure site like that. And Chamber staff should be doing the content updating.
  • Kathy stressed how much the CVB collaborates.  Why not collaborate with By All Means Graphics and embed the monthly Northfield Entertainment Guide into the VisitingNorthfield.com site? It’s far and away the best tool available for promoting Northfield tourism yet there’s not even a link to it from the links page. Why not collaborate with Northfield.org and put their RSS events feed on the site?
  • It seems a bad idea to have three current/former Chamber board members on the CVB board, plus Kathy. How can feet be held to the fire with that arrangement?
  • There is not one reference to the CVB in the new 2008 Visitors Guide. It’s 100% branded as a Chamber booklet:
    CVB-2008-visitors-guide-coverCVB-2008-visitors-guide-credit-page
  • Kathy’s 20-minute speech to the Council tonight was exactly that, a speech, not a presentation. No charts, no graphs, no visuals, no PowerPoint slides, no video. It was a huge missed opportunity to generate some excitement about CVB activities. Instead, there were lots of droopy eyes.

Former City Councilor David DeLong wanted to know when the agreement between the City and the Chamber for CVB services was up for renewal. I would, too. It seems to me that the City might get a lot more bang for the tourism dollar if the Chamber knew it had to compete with other local non-profits to deliver tourism-related services. I don’t think we’re being well-served by this never-ending, 20-year-long sweetheart deal with the Chamber.

89 thoughts on “The Convention and Visitors Bureau: a troubling lack of transparency, accountability, and performance”

  1. David L writes in #44:

    Third, I am not sure why you and Griff think that the performance is “troubling.” What are guys basing this upon, your personal opinion? What are the performance measures that the CVB is failing?

    In addition to Carol’s comment (#45), I can cite my own experience. I lived in Rochester for three years before moving to Northfield. I was an East Coaster who was brand new to the area. During those three years, not once did I hear about Northfield in any way.

    When I knew we were moving to Northfield, I researched the city (online, as virtually all research is done now). I found the city website, Northfield.org, this website, and a variety of businesses. I never saw a CVB website promoting the town. I also never saw the entertainment guide website.

    On visiting in person, I ran across the Chamber. It wasn’t open when I popped in on a Saturday, but their foyer did have some info on Northfield. The only item I remember finding interesting was a street map of the town. I later determined that the pdf map on the city’s website was far superior.

    If the CVB is doing its job, shouldn’t this story sound different?

  2. David L, in #49 you wrote:

    You have to remember that if another organization took over the management that they shouldn’t be asking for public funds to support their efforts. Further, their mission should not conflict with the CVB’s purpose. For example, the NDDC has a mission dedicated to the downtown and not the whole city. The Arts Guild, Historical Society, and others have the same problem.

    My reading of the comments above is that the suggestion is for the city to put the CVB contract up for competitive bid, not for another organization to take on the same goals without funding or an agreement with the city. Some other issues related to this:

    1. The Chamber has just as much “conflict” as any other entity you listed, since the Chamber does not serve all businesses in the city.

    2. Putting the CVB contract up for competitive bid does not mean it would necessarily be taken from the Chamber. If they retained the contract following a competitive process, there would presumably be measurable goals in place to prevent discussions like these in the future.

    3. I also agree with Larry in #48: the city should have measurable goals which are assessed regularly (annually, with such assessments made public) whenever there is a contract with an external entity.

  3. Here’s a question for David Koenig: you have started down a fruitful path with your posts on governance, transparency and accountability. The initial posts were focused on leadership issues. What does good governance look like from the grassroots up?

    If we expect elected officials and appointed leaders to embrace the sorts of principles you have described — which seem both reasonable and effective — what are the corollary obligations on citizens? How much self-discipline must we exert in channeling our energy through our elected representatives, as opposed to going directly to whatever point/person/office we perceive to be the source of an annoyance?

    Using this CVB thing as an example, you mentioned that you were uncomfortable with the arrangement back when you served on the Council. What inhibited your ability to lead a change? Was there no citizen interest to back you up? Why has this question not resurfaced for so many years?

    How does this sort of spontaneous, impassioned public conversation fit in a good governance structure? How do we separate the important public issues from the specific concerns of an individual (or several individual) citizens? Does a series of me-to posts carry the same weight as a vote in an election?

    I remember sitting in a congressperson’s office once, being told by the chief of staff that as few as three letters on a given issue was enough to get their attention and motivate action. That was certainly not true for every issue, but the point was that relatively few loud voices could dominate their attention. How does a governance structure insulate the public business from that sort of lobbying?

  4. Randy: You are raising some very important questions about how governance works, how citizens should work in the existing system and what is the role of a “blog” like Locally Grown in the community…

    Some of the questions you raise would make great “posts” just in them selves.

    It seems that you are taking this site, essentially a conversation between those who care to participate, way too seriously. It’s not likely to overthrow the government,local or otherwise.

    As for your entreating citizens to work for city goals only directly through their elected representatives, you should talk to Ross Currier about the success rate for that, on several different issues.

    I daresay if our newspaper had a more questioning bent, or provided more than the usual one side to many political stories, this site would not take on some of the characteristics it has.

    Questions and answers, checks and balances, are the essence of democracy. Why question that premise?

  5. Randy J,

    In post #53, you asked “Using this CVB thing as an example, you mentioned that you were uncomfortable with the arrangement back when you served on the Council. What inhibited your ability to lead a change? Was there no citizen interest to back you up? Why has this question not resurfaced for so many years?”

    I must confess that there were so many issues with how the City was being governed at that time, and still now it seems, that this issue was just one among many and not the biggest. Even at my most polite and pursuasive times, though, there was a group of 4 who would vote down any suggestion that I made (like looking to a larger law firm for a new City Attorney). Simple math made it quite difficult to challenge the status quo, even on small items.

    My single vote, though, did force the Charter Commission to send its recommendation to move to a City Manager form of government to the public…which the voters (correctly) rejected. That, and being a hard-liner on growth in city expenses were about the only areas in which I was able to have much impact (other than making some people mad at me).

    Challenging the status quo is not something people take lightly, especially from “an outsider”, which I believe I was perceived to be as I was very new to town.

  6. Randy J,

    Last reply to your post #53 (I think). (Griff, I had posted two before this, but only see one online now.)

    You ask “what are the corollary obligations on citizens? How much self-discipline must we exert in channeling our energy through our elected representatives, as opposed to going directly to whatever point/person/office we perceive to be the source of an annoyance?”

    This kind of change in thinking takes a long time to implement. But, that is not a reason to give up on it. Rather, we should begin with a process of restoring Clear Accountability in City government. I advocate for a truly Strong Mayor form of government. This will require a change in the City Charter. So, one thing we can do is to press our Charter Commission to make a change so that Accountability is clear…no more mini-Mayors.

    Second, I believe that we all have an obligation to serve, if our situation permits. Whether it be on voluntary boards, in elected positions, or otherwise. We also have an obligation to pay attention to what our boards and elected officials are doing. I think that Griff is simply paying attention.

    Consider the concept of the City transferring taxpayer funds to the Chamber to promote business in town, to the NDDC to lead all downtown initiatives, to the CVB to raise awareness of our town generally, etc. Or, even better, consider opening up a competition for funds from the City to address those issues. My guess is that we see greater innovation, better responsiveness and better use of funds. The Council, then, needs to be the overall governing structure to ensure that these networks of governance are properly doing what they say they will do.

    I hope that this makes some sense….we have a very engaged town. Sometime we do talk more than we “do”. But, that’s not a reason to stop talking.

  7. In response to David K’s post # 55: He is very accurate in what he says here, and to go a step further, although David was always raising a serious, valid question when he asked for procedures like cost benefit analyses, or more competitive bidding on legal services, it was taken as “rocking the boat”. There was often not a substantive, discussion on an issue raised if it was considered to be in some way “bothersome”.

    That is not a good way to run any government, large or small.

    The circumstances under which David left city gov’t, and we, the citizens , lost the benefits of his good structural process thinking, were a shame to this community.

    And yet here we are once again, with criticism being leveled at those who raise questions.

    Is it the nature of any community that the “will of the ‘tribe’ ” must not be challenged in any way?

    Then how do we correct mistakes? How do we even acknowledge that there are “mistakes”?

  8. David K: I’m intrigued by your statement that you didn’t do anything about the CVB when you were on the Council because there were more important issues. Isn’t that still true today? What, if anything, do you propose be done? How much of that work are you going to do?

    Randy was much more eloquent that I was in capturing the idea that most commentators, including Griff, seemed to be troubled more by their ignorance, than by actual lack of transparency, accountability, or performance on the CVB’s actions.

    I have to commend Griff (and several others) for at least trying to become educated, and complaining about the difficulty of doing so. But, that is not the Chamber’s, the CVB’s, nor my problem.

  9. Randy J,

    You’ve been doing your governance homework (or have a keen mind for this sort of stuff)!

    Yes, in fact, the concept of distributive governance is gaining a foothold in academic settings and also at many corporations, though not necessarily under that name.

    Under distributive governance, or network governance as it is sometimes described, the power of oversight is pressed down and out to as close at it can be to the source of the risk or revenue generation, with the interaction between different governance centers resulting in a highly adaptive organization. Stakeholders often have involvement. In the case of a business, the stakeholders would include customers, suppliers and the like. This is an overly simplistic description, but the concept is based on the idea that risk management and innovation are best done at the point closest to the customer and that a system like this is far more resilient than a top-down command and control structure.

    This governance concept is founded in an emerging area of science called Complexity. As applied to economics and finance, Complexity Theory is likely to turn much of what we have been taught in Economics for the past thirty years into Economic History. Or, perhaps if that’s a bit strong, it is certainly causing a substantial re-thinking of the standard risk-return framework that eminated from the Chicago school of thought in the ’70s and ’80s. Among the things that Complexity explains is how markets operate, as well as many other natural interactions. One outcome is that the belief that “the market is right” is both supported as a long-run phenomenon and shown to have the potential to be greatly distorted and incorrect for sometimes lengthy periods, with high costs. I’ll refer you to the Santa Fe Institute for a better description than I can provide, or can be provided in a blog post. This is great stuff!

    I’ll also refer you to Dr. Shann Turnbull‘s website. Shann is a very provactive thinker in this area and wrote a paper that was chosen as the top paper this year at the Loyola University’s conference on “Boards of Directors: Managers of Risk, Sources of Risk”. In the Abstract of the paper, he begins “Directors of corporations governed by a single board (i) Have excessive and unethical powers to become “Sources of risk” and (ii) Lack processes to systematically obtain information independently of management on the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of either their managers or the business to be “Managers of Risk”. ” Does this sound familiar about our City Government and its relationship to the CVB?

    Since this is already too long of a post, I’ll reply to your other two questions separately….

  10. David L,

    I have already started doing “what I am going to do” which is to talk to the Chair of the Charter Commission about changing the Charter and advocate for establishing more Clear Accountability. That’s where it starts.

    I didn’t say that I didn’t do “anything” about the CVB when I was on the Council. I asked questions and was told it was “locked-up” by the Chamber and that I shouldn’t mess with that. See Post #8 above.

    Still, I asked questions of Kathy and raised the issue…to the usual dead air response from the rest of the Council.

    Good governance structures enable better performance. Bad governance structures inevitably enable lesser performance. I think many here are educated on the governance issue with the CVB…far from being ignorant. We all also seem to sense that there is very little tangible evidence that the CVB activities have been positively impactful. It seems that they don’t even measure it themselves and could not answer the question about whether they have been successful. What business runs that way?

    This discussion about the CVB is about a symptom of a problem. The problem is the governance design of the City and what people will accept in terms of such.

  11. I would like to briefly address Larry B’s comments (#46) about accountability for organizations that receive EDA grants. The NDDC has voluntarily kept the EDA updated on all the actions and initiatives throughout the year during each grant cycle as well as been available to answer any questions. This year the EDA decided to ask for quarterly reporting (which is GREAT!) from us and the NEC as well. All this information was just presented to the EDA in their packet on May 22nd and the NDDC would be happy to share our accomplishments with any members of the community or with our partners. I think we all have a very open and congenial relationship as we try to promote business in Northfield. The NDDC is essentially contracted to be the feet of the EDA in downtown. By the way, the EDA grant provides only a portion of the operating budget of the NDDC. The rest is received in gifts from individuals who want to keep the downtown vital, downtown business owners, and other stake holders–it is truly a community effort! If you would like to become a partner you may donate on the website, nddc.org anytime day or night!

  12. David K: I agree that the CVB is a symptom of a problem. I see a different problem than you.

    You served on the Council and did nothing when you were told it was all locked up? You have been out for 8? years, and haven’t done anything since then? Now you are going to the Charter Commission?

    You have great knowledge, and wonderful experience. Would you be willng to volunteer for the Chamber to put your abilities to a positive use? We (the CVB) could really use someone like you.

    I was Chamber president for one year. I got paid nothing, and have taken a lot of flak.

    Honestly, in the whole year I was president, I never heard one complaint about the CVB.

    So, if you are willing to show the same kind of positive energy you had when you whooped my a** 10 years ago in the election, I think a lot could get accomplished. Good governance structures are necessary, but insufficient, to get the work done. Someone always has to do the heavy lifting.

    As Grandpa said, “Nothing ever got done by talking about it.” That is why I told the Chamber members that we were beginning to sound the same way. I told them in that “controversial” address that they needed to quit complaining and get to work – or as Jacki said, “Get off your dead butts”.

    The idea that something can be done by talking about it has always been a Northfield problem. The CVB discussion is a sympton of that problem. Everyone has an answer to solve a “problem” that they don’t even know if it exists.

    So, David K. consider this a formal invitation to be part of the solution. Are you ready?

  13. David L,

    I’m afraid my energies have been put elsewhere in the past 8 years..it’s true. I’ll not bore you or others with the details. But, I’ve not been sitting around.

    Each of us has changing priorities and changing availabilities. Let’s stop with the baiting and attacking people because of their ideas and questions. Your post #64 doesn’t read to me like it meets your usual standard.

    I believe that there is a governance issue in Northfield city government. It’s not unique, but it is addressable. I believe there is a governance issue at the CVB. In the grand scheme of things, the latter is a relatively tiny matter…but one not to be ignored by those who are responsible for its oversight.

    As my situation allows, I’m advocating for the change in the governance of City affairs that I think is the first one needed. Much more can flow from that if others agree. If they don’t, then I hope that some other change is made to make the accountability for city government leadership more clear. I’ll make my case for it, and offer my help as is helpful.

  14. I have read every one of these posts. Entertaining, informative…but the basic question, after 65 posts, has yet to be answered.
    Where is the tangible evidence of accomplishemnt by the CVB? What has it done? Where is the output? I wouldn’t be as bothered by the link between the Chamber and the CVB if there were some public record of accomplishment. Why is that so hard to get? Where are the measurables? Why is it so hard for David L. and the Chamber to answer these questions? Instead of answers, we get defensive posturing.
    Can someone provide us with measurable output from the CVB?

  15. Given that the Chamber IRS 990 for 2006 (most recent one) lists the CVB as a program, and the column for program expenses is “0” it’s not reasonable to expect visible/measurable results. And where’s the $$$? It would seem binary, given ZERO program expenses — either there’s a lot of $$$ sitting in an account waiting to be spent on CVB program expenses, or that the $$$ collected has been diverted and spent on something else. Is there another explanation? Am I missing something here?

  16. David S: My attitude is not “defensive posturing”; it’s ignorance. I don’t know the answers to Griff’s questions. As Griff said, the CVB is a weird duck. But, that doesn’t mean that something is rotten in the state of CVB-land.

    I will remind LG readers that if a Chamber member had the same questions, they could go right to Kathy and get some answers. That is why they pay money; to have an organization work for them. I don’t much motivation to spend my time and energy finding answers for people unless I agreed to be their leader (Chamber president), they are paying me $180 per hour (lawyer). or they say, “Please, David L.” (which hasn’t happened).

    David Koenig hit the nail on the head. We are all busy. Things don’t get done or get attention because WE don’t put the time and energy into it, even when “we” are in a position of governance.

    Griff’s concerns about the CVB could be a positive thing – if it directed in the right direction, i. e. towards those who do have the time and energy to do something. But, I doubt that vigilante blogging to LG readers is going to help anything, especially judging from the depth of knowledge most posters have.

  17. David L,

    People being ‘very busy’ with multiple commitments, is one of the reasons that I advocate for a Strong Mayor governance structure in the city government. I’d rather have someone in that position who views the job as their one professional commitment.

    Often, to get things done, it takes that one person who has the passion, vision and dedication/determination to:

    1) attain the resources needed to achieve the corporate objectives
    2) make sure they are pursued within the corporate boundaries of behavior
    3) ensure that those given the responsibility to attain specific objectives are accountable for achieving them

    I like the Strong Mayor over the Manager form of government because the Mayor is directly accountable to us. The professional help that can be given by an Administrator is no different than that which can be given by a Manager, so I don’t see a loss there. Meanwhile, the ambitions of a Manager versus an Administrator, can be quite different.

    Picture a Strong Mayor, with the power to change whether the Chamber managed the CVB in the next year or not, asking for measurable results from the CVB . I think the answers would flow….

  18. David K – I agree with all of your strong mayor arguments. I think another solid argument for the strong mayor system and stronger local controls across the country is to correct a pendulum swing that has taken the US cities in general and Northfield in particular too far towards professionalism and government by franchise.

    Highly parochial political structures can produce innovative and creative ideas but have a hard time spreading those ideas. Highly franchised political structures, professional city administrators – adoptable city codes – etc can move ideas around efficiently but have a hard time generating innovation. A professional administrator and staff will adopt a tried and tested idea but are going to be more inhibited in stepping out of the box on a new idea (on anything running up against the professional creed) than a locally elected Mayor.

    Northfield has some creative thinkers (and doers) who get frustrated when they want to take positive actions but end up locking horns with disinterested administration.

    I think streets, sewer, grass cutting etc are important needs that a strong mayor candidate should address as to how they will approach and hopefully improve.

  19. Thank you for your critique of the CVB Griff. I too have been of a similar opinion of the CVB for years. I’ve heard the same vague reports of the activities of the CVB before the City Council with little questioning or request for further facts from council members.

    My fear here is that the issues you raise here will go nowhere beyond this blog.

    I hope some of you will keep the pressure on and demand more transparency and better results.

  20. The NDDC and the Chamber are co-hosting a forum on tourism, Tuesday, June 3 at 8am, lower level conference room of the Archer House. Representatives from the CVB, the Historical Society, the DJJD committee and St. Olaf conferences will be on hand to discuss what they are doing to draw people to town. Also the NDDC folks will be able to talk about initiatives to bring those people visiting for other events downtown. Hopefully the discussion will be productive and we can see where the “holes” are that need to be filled in promoting our fabulous town to the rest of the universe!

  21. Thanks for the alert on the NDDC forum on tourism next Tues morn, Mary. I’ve heard rumors that the panel will include Kathy Feldbrugge (Chamber/CVB), Hayes Scriven (Northfield Historical Society), and Michelle Weber Egeness, CVB Advisory board chair.

    One problem, tho. Neither Ross nor Hayes have blogged about it, and the Chamber/CVB doesn’t have anything about it on their websites either.

    So it can’t be true. 😉

  22. I got spammed by Ross on next Tuesday’s forum:

    NDDC/Chamber Downtown Forum to Focus on Tourism

    Northfield, Minn.—The Northfield Downtown Development Corporation (NDDC) and the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce will present a public forum focusing on supporting and strengthening area tourism on Tuesday, June 3 at 8 a.m. Featuring a panel of experts, including Kathy Feldbrugge of the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), Hayes Scriven of the Northfield Historical Society, and Michelle Weber Egeness of St. Olaf College and CVB board member. The forum will take place the Riverview Conference Room, lower level of the Archer House, 212 Division Street, in downtown Northfield.

    Feldbrugge will discuss the importance of tourism to the community’s economic health and the CVB’s on-going efforts within the context of her extensive experience and current best practices. Scriven will share details of the Historical Society’s efforts to draw tourists to Northfield, which is vital to the organization’s financial success. Egeness will highlight the benefits of collaboration between city organizations, essential to providing visitors with the best possible experience while visiting Northfield.

    There has been much discussion in recent weeks about Northfield’s efforts in supporting and strengthening tourism and a number of key participants have been invited to attend.  The panelists will start the discussion and then field subsequent questions.

    The NDDC is a non-partisan, non-profit community organization dedicated to the vitality of downtown Northfield. The event is free and open to the public. As always, coffee and cookies will be served.

  23. Since both Kathy Feldbrugge (Chamber/CVB) and Michelle Weber Egeness, CVB Advisory board chair will be on the panel at the NDDC forum next Tues morning, feel free to post questions here that you’d like to see asked of them… either because you’re not able to be there or because you’re not comfortable speaking publicly.   Or use the LG Contact Us form or the NDDC Contact Us form.

    I’ll see to it that the questions posted here as comments get forwarded to Ross Currier who usually moderates the forum. It’ll be his call whether or not to use your questions, of course.

    I plan to take audio/video of the forum.

     

  24. I went to http://www.visitingnorthfield.com after being alerted to the ad and looked for the buried link to the Northfield Entertainment Guide. Would it be under “About” which lists “Other Community Websites” like the Northfield News, Defeat Days, Northfield.org? No. Would it be under “Things to Do/ Culture and Entertainment”? There’s the word Entertainment. Surely that is where the link is. No. How about “Northfield Event Calendar/Community Events.” No. (There is a note that these events are submitted to the Chamber of Commerce, so call the Chamber with updated events. How about an NEG link, rather than only relying on call-ins? And I wonder, as others have, why the Chamber is not closer to the big tourist draw, the NHS museum! The Chamber office is very hard to spot on Hwy. 3.)

    Finally I found a link to the guide under Visit Planning/Helpful Links.

    One more thing: I wonder why the Ideal Cafe sign is used to represent Dining and Lodging? Nostalgia? Good luck finding the Ideal Cafe, tourists!

    But, bottom line, at least it was a big ad, attracting attention to “charming and sophisticated, historic and colorful, artsy and active, secluded and happening” Northfield.

  25. It was a big ad, but on a day when people aren’t thinking weekend and in a section that has nothing to do with entertainment/tourism. It would have been better to do a smaller, targeted ad in the Sunday travel section or weekend section.
    Seems that with city budget time approaching, a group should make an alternative proposal for the CVB budget.

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