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A small group of Mesquite business owners attended the July Business-to-Business forum hosted by the Economic Development Commission, July 25. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.
"This is to bring us as business partners together and work with each other," Natalie Hafen, Co-Chairman of the Mesquite Economic Development Commission, said about the second bi-monthly Business-to-Business Forum held Wednesday evening, July 25.
"We want to make Mesquite a better resort community and bring more people in. We also want to help each other with the down time and to offer the local people something," she added.
Blake Syndergaard, co-owner of Mesquixote Communications, served as moderator and reviewed some of the events scheduled for the next four months that could impact businesses in Mesquite. The idea is for local businesses to know about the events beforehand and ensure they are prepared for the extra influx of visitors.
Lex Hall, Mesquite Gaming representative, and Bryan Dangerfield, Director of Mesquite City Athletics Department, presented a full schedule of events sponsored by their respective organizations into 2013.
Hall mentioned that the CasaPoolooza Pool parties have been a big success for the CasaBlanca Casino and Hotel, bringing in approximately 1,200 visitors each time they have been held.
"You don't see a dollar amount for the sponsor fee for some of these events, but it's a good investment," Hall remarked.
He highlighted the Mesquite Motor Mania Car Show scheduled in January 2013 that is expected to draw over 500 entries and will use all four casinos in town for the car displays. The Mesquite Hot Air Balloon Festival is set for its second year on Jan. 25 and 26, 2013. It was a very well received event when it made its inaugural debut this past January.
"These people are going to be moving around Mesquite while they are here," Hafen explained. "We want businesses to be prepared with customer service and have the food and staff to provide them."
"How can businesses get involved with these events," Syndergaard asked Hall.
"If we can let businesses know ahead of time what kind of attendance we have projected, they can staff for it, stock their shelves for it," Hall replied.
"The City isn't going to hand it to us," Hafen added. "We, as business owners, will have to call each other and find out about these things and start working with each other."
In response to audience questions, she remarked that "we know the casinos want to keep people in their business. But people are going to wander around town. We'll work on some kind of central information point for the September meeting."
Click here for a full Community Events Calendar with all of the upcoming events included.
Dangerfield took the floor and reviewed the sporting events set to take place in Mesquite. He explained that the schedule available on the City's Web site has a formula that explains how to estimate the number of visitors expected for each event.
"We scheduled the Re/Max Long Drive a week earlier this year," Dangerfield explained about the long-running annual event that brings in thousands of visitors each year. "It's set for Oct. 16 through the 25."
"Soccer is growing in our area. REAL (the professional soccer team) came down from Salt Lake City and did a sports camp last summer. They are interested in doing multiple events throughout the year (in Mesquite)."
"Because of the heat, we don't have a lot of events coming to town until October," he added. Dangerfield explained that one of the largest single day events, the Utah Youth Football tournament, moved to Cedar City, UT, because "August
is too hot here."
"As we get more of these different kinds of events coming to town, it just adds that much more prestige to Mesquite. It kind of snowballs from there."
"We don't want to partner with Las Vegas events because the likelihood is they'll stay down there. If we can have them stay in Mesquite and (attend an activity in St. George) so what. They're staying in our hotel rooms and coming back here for dinner," Dangerfield explained about sporting events held in conjunction with St. George.
Click here to access the Mesquite Athletics Schedule through the end of 2012.
"The events that are coming to town, whether through Mesquite Gaming or (City) Sports and Leisure, or other avenues, impacts the community," Syndergaard explained to the small group of business owners in attendance. "We want you to know through business to business networking, how to get the information."
"There are five hundred people coming to town on a weekend. What impact does that have on your business and Mesquite," he said.
"As a business owner, you want to know how to market to the (visitors). That becomes your responsibility as a business owner."
Syndergaard suggested the business people contact the event sponsor and learn how many people are coming in and if the event will have vendor booths if they are interested in that. "You may want to know that and profile that weekend."
Hafen suggested the businesses go to the events and hand out fliers about sales they may be having or food specials at their restaurants. "When people are here, they want to get out and move around. I can host an event and have you work it with me. If we can be prepared and welcome them, they will come back."
Councilman Geno Withelder addressed the group and explained that the largest single day participatory event in Mesquite is the Golf Fore Kids tournament held in December at four golf courses. "We had 460 golfers last year. Just under 30 percent of them came from out of town. As far as I know, we are probably the only city in the United States that does something like that," Withelder explained.
"This year we may add the fifth golf course. We also have the possibility of having over 500 golfers in one day (in the tournament)."
"When people realize the quality of events, facilities and weather, it will bring more people," Hafen continued.
"What this group is focusing on is what we have right now," Hafen said. "We can work with each other and with what we have today. We need to get away from the City and do this ourselves."
"The Mayor asked us (the Economic Development Commission-EDC) to put together a 24-month plan. Part of that is to pull this group together. As this evolves, we want it to include more businesses," she said.
Dave Ballweg, a local business owner, explained that the proposed Mesquite Regional Business, Inc, a new economic development function, is charged with value-added new business recruitment. "This group tonight (EDC) is focusing on support of current businesses. The Mesquite Community Development Corporation (MCDC) is concentrating on doing community development work on the Mesquite Boulevard. It's kind of a triangle."
Hafen agreed that a topic for the next meeting will be the development of a central repository of information about upcoming events that business owners can access.