Logo aims to give city a slicker image

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Topic on May 20, 2010 09:51 AM

Visit Winston-Salem is adding a more artsy look to its brand.

The agency unveiled a logo this week that touts the city's attempt to promote initiatives in the arts and innovation.

The logo features a graphic resembling tie-dye that curves into a "W" and "S." It is positioned between Winston and Salem, serving as the hyphen between the words.

The group is doing a soft rolling out of the green, yellow and red logo before the official introduction on July 1, said Richard Geiger, the group's president. DavidsonRoth, a local advertising agency, helped to develop the logo, but much of the work was done in-house, so the cost was minimal, Geiger said.

"It sort of picks up the flame look for the City of Arts and Innovation," said Gayle Anderson, a board member and the president and chief executive of the Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

Geiger said that the logo is one way to differentiate the city's marketing efforts from competitors.

"It carries a crisp, clean image," he said. "We felt it was important to have a new branding look that will invite conversation as different people will see different things in it."

Geiger said that the agency plans to be more aggressive in pursuing leisure and business meetings, including attending more trade shows and conducting more advertising.

As part of that goal, the agency has hired Dianne Brice to fill a vacant position as its sales manger, effective Monday.

Brice has worked in the industry for 24 years, including 10 years for the Charlotte Convention & Visitors Bureau. She will focus on the motor-coach and the multicultural sales markets.

Such a push could be pivotal in generating additional hotel stays -- and extra revenue -- for the agency. A hotel-occupancy tax produces the bulk of the annual budget for the Forsyth County Tourism Development Authority, which oversees the tourism bureau.

The authority said at its meeting Tuesday that it plans to use about $135,000 in excess revenue from fiscal year 2009-10, which ends June 30, toward its budget for fiscal year 2010-11. The budget will be up for a vote at its June meeting.

A ripple effect from the tight budget is that the authority already has committed all of the $225,000 in its business-development fund for 2010-11. That fund typically is used as incentives or seed money to attract events to the county, or to help event organizers pay for facility and setup fees.

Another financial challenge for the authority is that it continues to deal with a shortfall in occupancy-tax proceeds from four hotel properties.

Venues collect the tax as guests pay their bills. State law requires that the proceeds be passed on to county governments, typically on a monthly basis, for disbursing.

The four hotel properties owned in full or part by businessman Don Angell have not passed on the bulk of the tax they have collected since July 2009. Those properties are the Super 8 and Village Inn in Clemmons and the Brooks-town and Wingate inns in Winston-Salem. The properties are owned by limited-liability companies in which Angell has a stake.

The county tax department is responsible for collecting the money.

Geiger said that whenever hotel properties hold back their occupancy tax, "it hurts our effort to market and promote our community and help our economy."

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