November 2, 2011
  • 11/2/2011--Supes Focus On Tourism Industry 
    Hotels, golf tournaments and yacht races all part of how San 
    Mateo County can crawl out of deficit, say local biz reps. 

    By Austin Walsh 

    Redwood City Patch 

     

    The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday afternoon considered 

    constructing hotels, capitalizing on upcoming local sporting events, and otherwise 

    marketing the county as a desirable location for business to improve the county's 

    economy. 

     

    County Manager David Boesch directed a study session - held at the board chambers in 

    Redwood City - in which supervisors and business leaders brainstormed economic 

    development ideas. 

     

    For one, the county could cash in on the influx of visitors coming to the area to watch the 

    upcoming America's Cup yacht races, said Anne LeClair, President and CEO of the San 

    Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

     

    The race is expected to generate $1.57 billion in revenue for San Francisco, where the 

    race will be held, but San Mateo County could garner a slice, she said. She pointed to 

    hotels, restaurants and local tourism destinations as major points of interest to draw 

    visitors south and into San Mateo County. 

     

    Her comments followed a presentation made at the regularly scheduled board meeting 

    Tuesday morning by Adam Van de Water, who is coordinating San Francisco's 

    preparation effort for the race. Van de Water said he wanted the event to be an economic 

    success for San Francisco and the entire region. 

     

    LeClair said that Peninsula hotels will benefit twice in the next two years: from the influx 

    of fans for the America's Cup races, and from the US Open Golf Tournament, which will 

    be held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. 

     

    She said an agreement has already been reached in which staffers for the golf event will 

    stay in San Mateo County, raking in a considerable amount of income for the area. 

     

    Some attending the supervisors' session said the county could use more prime overnight 

    locations for business people. 

     Chris Carpenter, general manager at the San Mateo County Event Center, said plans are 

    being developed to build a hotel nearby his facility in order to offer a destination location 

    to out-of-towners coming to attend conferences and conventions. 

     

    The proposed hotel could offer the conference rooms, fine dining opportunities and 

    amenities business people look for when visiting a region, Carpenter said. 

     

    All the elements addressed at the afternoon study session would raise revenue for the 

    county, which is grappling with a structural deficit of more than $50 million. 

     

    A memo by Boesch published before the meeting focused on county-owned property as 

    an asset that could be sold or leased in order to generate income to the county. 

     

    But much of the discussion that took place Tuesday centered around talk between 

    supervisors and organizations such as those represented by LeClair and Carpenter as well 

    as other local Chambers of Commerce in the region to improve the local business 

    climate. 

     

    Redwood City Councilwoman and San Mateo County Economic Development 

    Association CEO Rosanne Foust said meetings such as the one that took place Tuesday 

    go far toward connecting the dots of local movers and shakers that can make a difference 

    in the local economy. 

     

    "Economic development is a wonderful, wonderful thing," said Foust. 

     

    And though no policy decisions were made at the study session, Board of Supervisors 

    President Carole Groom directed Boesch to synthesize many of the ideas floated Tuesday 

    into an action plan. 

     

    She also said the board would have another meeting, with other local business 

    development advocates, before making any decisions.