The Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) – What’s the Difference?

As in many towns and cities throughout Oklahoma, Guthrie has both a Chamber of Commerce and a Convention and Visitor Bureau. Although these two groups share a common threads of raising the quality of life in Guthrie and promoting Guthrie both locally and beyond, they actually have very distinct, unique purposes, missions, and processes. Here is a little more information to help clarify the differences between these two important entities.

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Bruce JohnsonA chamber of commerce is a local network of businesses with unified goals to promote quality of life through economic development and growth. A chamber of commerce serves members from ALL sectors with members, including automotive, construction, healthcare, legal services, lodging, manufacturing, religious and civic organizations, retail, storage, and more. It is not a branch of government, nor is it managed, funded, or otherwise regulated by government; instead, a non-government-based board of directors are elected by the chamber members to oversee its policies, organizational structure and operations. Furthermore, a chamber of commerce is funded through voluntary memberships, events and fundraisers, and investors, not tax dollars.

On the local level, the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce mission is to raise the quality of life in Guthrie America via its investors by growing our economy. The Guthrie Chamber accomplishes these goals by providing its investors (members) with networking opportunities, education, business advocacy and exposure, and support. It currently has one full-time employee, Gregory “Heady” Coleman, who oversees a staff of volunteers and interns, manages the day-to-day operations, and leads and promotes the Chamber’s activities. About 250 Chamber Investors currently belong to the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce.

In contrast, a Convention and Visitor Bureau, or “CVB,” serves the purpose of promoting tourism and attracting special events (including private business conventions as well as major public and community celebrations), as well as providing information and services to tourists and visitors. Convention and Visitor Bureaus help define the external image promoted by their community, and serve as an avenue to market the community’s resources (businesses, resources, events, unique culture, etc.) in order to attract tourists, visitors, conferences and conventions, and more.  Funding for CVB activities is provided solely from a portion of revenue collected through a four percent (4 percent) Hotel/Motel Tax.

In Guthrie, the CVB has the mission of being the primary “destination marketing” organization of Guthrie, Oklahoma, and pursues the goals of accelerating sustainable economic growth and development by increasing visitor and convention business with a special focus of attracting overnight visitors. The Guthrie CVB currently operates under the City department of Community & Economic Development, who receives direction from the Convention and Visitor Bureau Board. CVB Board members are appointed by City Council and operate underneath City Council. Laurie Fuller currently serves as CVB Coordinator, and works in the creation and purchase of marketing materials, networking, and assistance to vendors and visitors.

Despite being two separate entities, the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce and the Guthrie Convention and Visitor Bureau have many overlapping objectives and goals.  Furthermore, based upon the recent votes of the Guthrie City Council and Guthrie Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors concerning the leasing of space in City Hall, it is clear both organizations share one singular value: to make Guthrie first in where people want to live, work and play!

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