It took a lot of persuading on the part of proponents, but the Marinette County Board of Supervisors will create the position of internal tourism director to market and promote the abundance of tourism opportunities in the county. The county board’s 15-13 vote will call upon the board’s Development Committee and county administrator to put the wheels in motion.

The decision came after supervisors, in committee settings and on the board floor, debated the issue for hours.

For awhile at least, it appeared the county would be following the recommendation of Administrator John Lefebvre who preferred a plan to create a program assistant position in the Facilities and Parks Department with the marketing and development of county-owned and operated facilities and recreational activities. The administrator’s proposal had the support of the board’s Infrasture Committee in a 5-0 committee vote.

However, Supervisor Bonnie Popp sponsored the motion, supported by Supervisor Rick Polzan, to establish the internal director position. The administrator claimed the proposal was almost a direct duplicate of the program he supported.

“The reason I voted against John’s proposal (for the program assistant position) is because at this point it is very limited,” said Popp. “It does not provide everything that there is to do in the county. It’s opened a can of worms and I knew this would happen. The City of Marinette Tourism Committee is looking for funds and that’s going to set a precedent. We really need to make a commitment to tourism. We need one-stop shopping. We need to go big on tourism and development,” said Popp who has a 20-year background in the tourism trade. 

About this time a year ago, the county had a contract with the City of Marinette for tourism promotion and marketing. In October of 2019, Lefebvre notified the city that the county would not renew the contract.

For years, the city and the county have been engaged in a sort of tug-of-war when it comes to promoting and marketing tourism. Opinions have differed over the years about what would be best for the city and county in attracting tourism. A sizable pocket of supervisors and private business owners in the county formed opinions that the county was not getting the support it needed to advance tourism.

The tourism issue has been debated long enough. Plenty of solid ideas came from these discussions. Now it’s time to put the tourism debate to rest and go to work to develop the abundance of untapped resources the county has to offer. We think the city will do fine in promoting its tourism opportunities, and the county will have own internal tourism director to advance its marketing and development.