Gulf United Metro Business Organization hosting Tourism Economic Development Summit


FOLEY - Tommy Lee, 2019/2020 chairman of the Gulf United Metro Business Organization (GUMBO) has been visiting multiple entities over the past month to discuss the Tourism Economic Development Summit that the organization will be hosting Oct. 16-18 in the area.

“We’re very excited in the sense that we believe at GUMBO that it’s time for us to actually put our best foot forward with the fact that we have a brand-new legislature that’s just completed their first session,” Lee said. “What we’re looking to do is to bring the members of both the House and Senate Tourism Committees and the entire Baldwin County legislative delegation down to the beach and show them what’s going on here at the south end of Baldwin.”

Members’ spouses/guests will also be invited, and accounting for any declines, an estimated 50 people will be coming to our area in October for the summit. Lee states when looking at the list of invitees, it’s clear the majority are from Birmingham north, and that there are a number of freshmen legislators. Only a few names, such as David Sessions and Chris Elliott, are from the southern end of the state.

An exact itinerary is still being planned, but a rough draft has been created while final details are established. During the summit, guests will stay at the Lodge at Gulf State Park, receiving a tour of the facility and dinner at the Lodge during the first night.

The second day would begin with key speakers for the area, including Lee Sentell, Director of Alabama Department of Tourism, Herb Malone, President/CEO Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, Chris Blankenship, Director of Alabama Department of Conservation and National Resources, and Lee Lawson, President/CEO of Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance. This would be followed by a tour of the Gulf State Park, a tour of OWA and potentially the sports fields and Event Center dependent upon time, a tour of The Wharf, and finally dinner that night at the governor’s residence with Governor Kay Ivey. Checkout would be the following morning.

“GUMBO did this exact event about ten to twelve years ago, and there are still a few members on the Senate or House Committees that were on the committees back then that say how great of a time it was, and asking if we are going to do it again,” said Lee. “It made an impression on these legislators. We have been on the bottom end of the stick for long enough as far as GUMBO is concerned, and we need to show Montgomery all of the good things that are going on down here.”

To bring the summit to life, GUMBO has been asking local organizations and municipalities for $10,000 each to raise an estimate of $65,000 to accommodate the guests for the three days and make the most of the time allowed to show them what our area offers. At this point, their request has been met with approval and gratitude for their efforts.

“This is good that GUMBO is getting this group down here,” said Foley councilmember Ralph Hellmich. “I think it’s a great thing, and I applaud GUMBO for getting this set up.”