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Columbus tourism bill passes House


Ryan Poe



Local and private legislation to add three members to the six-member Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau board passed the Mississippi House of Representatives today. 


If passed by the state Legislature and approved by Gov. Haley Barbour, House Bill 1552, authored by Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, will exempt the CVB from state laws confining tourism boards to six members. 


In addition to the members already on the board, the county and city would each appoint another member, and jointly appoint the ninth. 


Currently representing the city on the board are Chairwoman Whirlie Byrd, DeWitt Hicks Jr. and Nadia Dale. Representing the county are Vice Chairman George Swales, Treasurer Bart Wise and Mark Castleberry. 


The bill also expands the scope of the CVB, explicitly allowing the board to spend money on special events and economic development, Chism said. 


"There was a big conflict about whether they should be giving money to the Link and also whether certain individuals that do the appointments are also going to the bureau wanting special projects funded," he said. 


The legislation clarifies that the CVB would be able to give money for events organized by the mayor, councilmen or supervisors, Chism added. 


"It just specifies they can spend money on special events, such as the mayor''s unity luncheon," he continued. "That isn''t convention-type business. So, that clarifies that money can be used for that." 


Currently, the CVB board can only legally support conventions and events that promote tourism.




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