Board to meet first time in four years

HARLINGEN — It’s been a long time coming.

In the past four years, the Harlingen Convention & Visitors Bureau’s advisory board has not met.

That’s because city commissioners have had difficulty appointing residents with experience required to sit on the panel.

But the newly-revamped board is expected to meet today — if only informally.

The board’s four-member core plans to set a schedule of official monthly meetings, Cassandra Consiglio, the CVB’s executive director, said yesterday.

“It’s a meet-and-greet so we can get to know each other,” she said.

The board will help oversee the CVB, charged with marketing the city to draw tourism.

“The role is to provide feedback to the executive director on marketing the city and events,” Assistant City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez, who oversees the CVB, said yesterday.

Gonzalez said the board will also review events booked for the $16.7 million convention center, whose construction is expected to be completed in January.

“Now that we have a convention center we want to make sure to keep the board in the loop regarding the convention center and any events we’re trying to bring,” Gonzalez said.

The board is also charged with developing a tourism plan and creating events.

“The board is an advisory (group) created to assist the director of the Convention & Visitors Bureau regarding tourism strategies and visitors and conventioneers’ activities in the city,” according to the city ordinance that created the board. “The board shall develop a strategic visitors and conventioneers plan and recommend modifications to the plan as necessary.”

However, commissioners have been unable to appoint more than four members to the seven-member board.

In December 2016, commissioners reduced the board’s membership from 12 to seven members to allow the board to more easily form quorums.

Now, with four members, the board’s membership is just enough to form the quorum needed to officially hold city meetings.

Commissioners have had difficulty appointing members because the board’s guidelines require members with experience in businesses tied to the overall marketing of the city, Gonzalez said yesterday.

“Some boards have specialized positions — you have areas like hotels, restaurants, sporting event venues,” Gonzalez said. “That’s why we had some trouble.”

The city’s guidelines require the board to be made up of two members with experience in hotel management; a member with a background in restaurant management; a member with experience in retail management; a member with an arts background; a member with experience in promoting sporting events; and a person with a background in eco-tourism.

“We’re taking advantage of experience that citizens have to bring to the board,” Gonzalez said.

The board’s four members include Rex Warren and Michelle Lopez, each with experience in hotel management; Arnold Gomez, with experience in retail management; and Javier Mendez, director of the city’s parks and recreation department.

Who's on the board?

Rex Warren – experience in promoting sporting events

Michelle Lopez – experience in hotel management

Arnold Gomez – experience in retail management

Javier Mendez – city parks and recreations director