An undercurrent of frustration was evident at the third meeting of the Business2Business (B2B) Forum held on September 26, 2012 at the Falcon Ridge Hotel. Eighteen business and community leaders attended the forum during which concerns were expressed about: improving or marketing the “Mesquite Brand;” how much, if any, should city government participate in those efforts; and the low turnout among the business community at these meetings. B2B was established by Mesquite mayor, Mark Weir, tasked with developing an economic plan for Mesquite within the next year.
The panel for this meeting included chairman, Blake Syndergaard, vice-president of Discover Mesquite, Christian Adderson, Corporate Sales Manager for Mesquite Gaming, Bryan Dangerfield, Director of Mesquite Athletics and Leisure Services, Anne Miranda, Executive Director of the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce and Darlene Montague, College of Southern Nevada.
Blake Syndegaard welcomed the attendees reminding them that, “the B2B is intended to be a collaborative process,” so questions and comments were encouraged. The first guest, Christian Adderson, previewed upcoming events being sponsored by Mesquite Gaming. He noted that the Tri-State Marathon on November 17 and 18 will bring in 400-600 runners and “we have a four year goal to increase the number of runners from 600 to 2000.” He added, “We have a need for volunteers to man aid stations along the twenty-six mile route and we will give a prize to recognize the best vendor booth. This event is becoming an international event because of the uniqueness of our area.” The fact that this race is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon is also a great incentive for runners to come to Mesquite.
Adderson cited the upcoming World Senior Games in St. George that attracts more than 10,000 participants. “Many of those groups will stay in Mesquite because of lower hotel costs and because of Mesquite’s night life and dining experience,” he said. Other events in October include the USA Softball Tourney bring over 60 teams and the Rocky Mountain
School Baseball Tournament and the Nevada Open Golf Tournament on December 11-13. “If we max out participation at 280 participants we will have a $92,000 purse,” he noted, “and we are looking for hole sponsors.” He also gave a quick preview of January events citing the Motor-Mania car show that attracts 600-700 participants and the Mesquite Balloon Festival that attracts 25-30. He is hopeful to grow that event in the years ahead. “We are working with a great promoter,” he said, “and with the Mesquite Art Council to see what we can do to encourage these participants to stay in Mesquite after the event.”
When asked if anyone from Mesquite had gone to Albuquerque to see how they handle their balloon events Adderson said they had sent a representative there two years ago. “The whole community takes over the event,” he added suggesting that the more communities participate in making people feel welcome while providing for their needs while they are in Mesquite.
Bryan Dangerfield added that the Re/Max Long Drive event will be coming up from October 17-25. He went on to provide information about the economic impact of events. He reported that according to studies, each visitor averages spending $105-113.00 per visit and brings along an average of 1.5 people to accompany them. Using that as a guide, each participant in an event results in an average of $397.00 spent. Using that example, he said “a team averages twenty people including coaches and umpires so that means each team will spend $8000.00, not including any gaming they do.” So if Mesquite hosts a fifty team tournament it will bring $379,000.00 to Mesquite. He also mentioned that events such as the Senior Rugby Tournament have selected Mesquite because of its uniqueness as well as some of the great venues here for sporting events because senior events don’t require the valuable weekend hotel space that other groups want. He lamented the loss of at least one softball tourney to Cedar City due to the heat in August. At that remark he was asked if Mesquite had looked into offering nighttime events during the hottest time of the year. He responded by saying that night tourneys had been tried but discontinued due to staffing issues among other things. It was then suggested that if Mesquite is losing business in August then they need to find a way to promote the brand.
In planning and recruiting events Mesquite needs to establish its “brand” according to Dangerfield. “What can we do in Mesquite that we can’t do somewhere else,” he asked rhetorically, “in other words, what will bring them to Mesquite?” “We have well known facilities and we need to keep them affordable to entice the tourneys.” He concluded by offering examples of communities that have been successful bringing events to their area, “When you look at those communities that have hit home runs, they put on events for the events.” He cited the specific example of Clemson, South Carolina welcoming opposing teams and visitors to town for football games started welcoming people from the time they land at the airport. Then they left gift baskets in the rooms and conducted tours leaving an indelible impression. In other words we need to provide a reason for events to want to come here.
The difficulty is defining, “What is the Mesquite brand?” A discussion followed wherein Mesquite should highlight its similarities to Las Vegas. Others pushed the sporting venues as the jewels in Mesquites crown. In a lesson to be learned comment it was mentioned that the recent “Smokin’ in Mesquite” event brought a lot of people to town, most businesses were closed so businesses did not benefit from the event. That comment supported the idea of having events within events.
Meanwhile, Natalie Hafen, Mesquite Economic Council, expressed concern about the efforts of committees like B2B and others where there is not enough participation from the business community. “With the exception of the media, this meeting has nine participants,” she said, “please take the time to bring your business neighbors to meetings like this.” Other comments supported her comments saying that it was neither the responsibility of the city or the chamber of commerce to figure out how Mesquite businesses should market themselves.
Anne Miranda, subbing for Cody Law, outlined additional events such as the Mesquite Media Classic 2012 involving over 100 golf writers from all over the world will be coming in November. “It’s a five day event and they are looking for business sponsors,” she said, “local businesses need to contact Cody Law to find out what the needs may be.” She also mentioned Gold Butte Days on October 12 and 13 which will include a 5K run, a scavenger hunt and other events. Yucca Street will be closed for this event and there are currently 35 vendor booths signed up. She then introduced Darlene Montague from the College of Southern Nevada who spoke briefly about the importance of having a skilled work-force. The college will be offering two new business classes they will provide as a result of surveys she and the Chamber of Commerce conducted.
The first is a “Customer Service Workshop” which will cost $65.00 and will be held on October 24 from 12:00 noon to 3:00PM. The second class is “Business Writing Fundamentals,” which will also cost $65.00 to be held on November 28 from 12:00 noon to 3:00 PM.