If you think offering increased year round employment and a vibrant local economy will improve our quality of all lake area residents, VOTE YES NOVEMBER 5TH for SPORTS TOURISM at Lake of the Ozarks. If we are not moving forward, we are moving backward!

For years the lake economy has struggled with a seasonal economy. Because of a seasonal economy, growth in our local economy has been a challenge. Whether it is wage growth, new employment opportunities, affordable housing or new business opportunities, the seasonal economy has plagued the lake area.

The challenges bringing new employment or business opportunities to the lake creates challenges for existing businesses, full time residents and our students that find very limited job opportunities as a high school or college graduates. So, we find many of our young people from the lake area moving away for better job opportunities for themselves and or their families. For business to offer new and better opportunities for the lake area job market is a challenge due to the seasonality of our economy and the unpredictable nature of tourism…..our primary industry.

Over the years, many ballot initiatives have been presented, some have passed, some failed. But they were all designed to help improve the local economy, increase property values and expand services. They have all been challenged for a variety of reasons, just like the Sports Tourism initiative is. Over the years the opposition has voiced uncertainty of what the impact of this new initiate will be. It is only fair that all sides be heard with respect, listen with an open mind and without shouting down people with opposing views on either side.

The Sports Tourism initiative was founded on 2 principles…..what can the lake area do to minimize the impact of a seasonal economy and how can it be done without a significant cost to the residents of the lake area. A tremendous amount of time, money and consideration was given to how can we approach this problem and offer new and better opportunities to the lake area residents. The conclusion was there is no perfect solution, but the most logical is a lodging tax increase because of our already low total hotel tax as compared to many tourism areas like Branson. A 3% increase in the hotel lodging tax means a $3.00 increase on a $100 room night rate that would be paid not by the business owner but by the visitor coming to the lake, whether staying in a hotel resort or vacation rental. I ask, how many times have you checked the lodging tax before booking a room? Have you ever decided not to go somewhere because of what the lodging tax is ????

Consider past initiatives that have passed with opposition….the Community Bridge, Prewits Point, Eagles Landing to mention a few. The Community Bridge brought new commerce to both sides of the lake, opened up significant new business and employment opportunities for the entire lake area and improved property values. Once again, Prewits Point and Eagles Landing, brought new employment opportunities and an expanded tax base that has improved the services to lake area residents. Would this have been possible without the Community Bridge, unlikely because it took property owners from both side of the lake to make the new developments feasible.

We can all agree that the lake needs to address our lack of affordable housing, provide year round employment, attract a new and expanded work force and provide new employment opportunities that can offer all lake residents a chance for a better life. It is often said that if you want different results, you need to change how you are doing things…so if you think offering increased year round employment and a vibrant local economy will improve our quality of all lake area residents, VOTE YES NOVEMBER 5TH for SPORTS TOURISM at Lake of the Ozarks. If we are not moving forward, we are moving backward!

- Mark Beeler, The Beeler Group