Visit Duluth furloughs six employees
Due to funding restrictions, Visit Duluth has temporarily furloughed six of its 11 employees.
Visit Duluth announced a temporary furlough of six staff members effective Monday, citing funding issues and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
"In order to restore a healthy visitor economy and help our partners thrive once again, I made the difficult decision," Visit Duluth President Anna Tanski said in a news release. "All advertising and promotion was paused; however, these steps were not enough to sustain our organization through the summer, resulting in these necessary furloughs."
The city's tourism bureau was funded through April and "was able to stretch reserves into mid-June," according to Tanski. The six employees make up over half of the bureau's full staff of 11.
Tanski said they began making plans for this possible outcome in March.
"At the time, no one knew how long this would go and what to expect, so we had plans and measures in place to make sure there isn't any interruption in service at this point," Tanski said. "It's possible that things could be delayed slightly due to the fact that there are fewer of us here, but we don't anticipate any less support for our industry."
Tanski also said she had received an email earlier in the day approving the bureau for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan of $150,000 from the Small Business Administration and to expect the funds to be deposited in three to four weeks.
"We're hoping to revisit things then," Tanski said.
The nonprofit also hopes to seek federal support outlined in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act when Congress revisits it in July. As it currently stands, the organization doesn't qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, which allows businesses to keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis.
"Because we're a 501(c)(6) we've been ineligible so far," Tanski said. "Not having access to that program is really what's put us in this situation. Us, and all of the other membership-based organizations are in the same boat."
Meanwhile, Tanski plans to continue to promote local tourism, support local businesses with information and advocacy as usual.
"We'll continue to be a key partner in our industry, just with a smaller staff for the time being," Tanski said.