Biz Buzz: Verdin Marketing to promote county

Verdin Marketing Ink of San Luis Obispo has been awarded the marketing contract for promoting tourism in San Luis Obispo County’s unincorporated communities.

The firm was hired by the county tourism business improvement district, which was formed in July 2009 to collect a tax on hotel receipts that finances tourism promotion.

The district promotes tourism in 10 unincorporated communities of San Luis Obispo County. It’s expected to spend about $1 million a year.

Verdin Marketing Ink is working with Riester, an advertising and marketing firm with offices in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. That company will manage branding and Web site development.

“Our initial talks with the (district) board have already started some great conversations for what the essence of the county is that we will be promoting,” said Mary Verdin, president of Verdin Marketing Ink.

Cheryl Cuming, chief administrative officer of the district, said the Verdin and Riester team has the mix of talent and experience to help increase “occupancy in the 700 hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals throughout the county’s unincorporated areas.”

Cuming is a former vice president of advertising for The Tribune and had a 15-year career in advertising and public relations in Arizona.

For three years, Verdin Marketing has worked with San Luis Obispo’s promotional coordinating committee and the city Police Department’s community outreach program.

It also was recently awarded the contract for the city’s Utilities Department publicity.

Riester’s clients include the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, the offices of tourism for the states of Utah and Arizona, and the California Department of Resources, Recovery and Recycling.

— Julie Lynem

VanderKelen picked for statewide panel

San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation Executive Director Barry VanderKelen has been elected to the steering committee of the League of California Community Foundations, which is composed of 24 such organizations across the state.

Together, league members have investments exceeding $6.5 billion, much of which has been permanently set aside by donors to generate income for annual grant-making in California’s communities.

The league lobbies lawmakers and regulators on behalf of community foundations and promotes those organizations’ interests.

— Julia Hickey