Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau board opens search for new CEO
EVANSVILLE – The next head of the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau will occupy a position that will impact 5,000 local jobs and bring millions of dollars in economic impact to the region.
But finding that person – a new CEO of the agency – revealed a division within CVB’s board on Thursday, when three of five members voted against hiring an outside company as part of the search. .
The majority of the panel, led by Chairman Joey Kiefer, said the CVB has an experienced board capable of finding the best person to replace Jim Wood, who will leave in January when his two-year contract expires.
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Wood and Vanderburgh County Council have publicly debated budget issues, such as the CVB’s request for travel funds and funding to modernize the office’s new offices in the Fifth Third Center.
It is a well-paid and highly visible position. Wood, a former tourism official in Kentucky, New Jersey and elsewhere, is paid $ 170,000 a year.
Kiefer was joined by board members Wendy White and Ali Hashemy in voting to proceed without a research firm. Cheryl Musgrave. attending her first meeting as a CVB board member, advocated for hiring a research firm and was joined by Mackenzie Black.
CVB’s board has four hoteliers who know the tourism industry, said Kiefer, who is not a hotelier but has six years on the panel.
Musgrave, a Vanderburgh County commissioner, took the seat from Alexis Berggren, managing director of Old National Events Plaza, who Musgrave says has resigned due to interest in the CEO role.
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Musgrave was appointed to the council on Tuesday in a vote of county commissioners.
Joshua Armstrong, another CVB board member, also resigned from the panel due to his interest in the CEO role, Musgrave said. Armstrong is president of the Downtown Evansville Economic Improvement District.
In addition to Berggren and Armstrong, Musgrave said there would likely be other people with local ties interested in the CEO role. Musgrave insisted that a research firm be hired to screen applicants both inside and outside the community.
“This has been the practice of this advice in the past,” Musgrave said. “This gave us Jim Wood, who is an exceptional leader who transformed CVB and put us in a very positive direction. I think to give up that direction at this time would be a major mistake.”
Black said that without an outside professional firm, “I think we run the risk of not having external candidates besides the local candidates that we may receive.”
After a motion to proceed with the CEO search firm was passed 3-2, Musgrave proposed that the CVB approach Vanderburgh County Council with a request for $ 40,000 to hire a company. This motion passed 5-0, although Kiefer said that even if the county council chose to make the $ 40,000 available, the CVB board would not be obligated to spend those funds.
CVB is set to leave its longtime office at the Pagoda for the fifth third center. The Evansville Parks and Recreation Department will move into the pagoda.
Wood’s departure leaves the CVB in search of its third leader since Bob Warren retired in 2018.