Editor:

This letter responds to the recent Payson Roundup article and an associated story published on Friday, July 9, about the uncertain future of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. I am a volunteer at the Visitors Center and have firsthand experience with Payson visitors, future residents and international guests who want to see “The Rim.”

The staff and volunteers at the Visitors Center are Payson ambassadors, creating that “first impression” of Payson and the Rim Country. I would like to address three issues that remain in play:

1. The current location is highly advantageous because guests don’t have to go far from their travel routes to visit the center and find the information they need. This was particularly relevant when the Backbone Fire closed SR 260 between Payson and Camp Verde. Many in-state and out-of-state tourists and travelers were unaware of the closure and the proximity of the Visitors Center to both SR 87 and 260 meant they didn’t have to go far to understand the situation. In many cases, we were able to re-route them to open roads when GPS was directing them to roads like FR 300. Having the Visitors Center located on the main point of entry into Payson, Highway 87, makes it easy for visitors to find.

2. The 30-year association between the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors Center provides a perfect opportunity to showcase regional businesses. Providing guests to the Visitors Center with business brochures and business cards is a distinct marketing advantage for the members and all businesses! Anecdotally, I provided several Realtor brochures to a couple looking for a new home in the Payson/Pine/Strawberry area. Two hours later a Realtor called to thank us for the referral.

The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce supports nine unique Rim communities from Rye to Young, including Star Valley, Christopher Creek and Tonto Basin.

3. Finally, the tone of the story inferred the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce was going out of business. Calls from members wanting to cancel or not renew because of this misinformation should be corrected immediately. The pandemic took its toll on Chamber member businesses. That, combined with the recent Payson Roundup story has created unnecessary stress on an organization dedicated to helping hundreds of local businesses grow and flourish.

To the Payson Town Council: Have you been truly transparent in discussions about relocating the Visitors Center to Green Valley Park and in your dealings with the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce?

Carol Smith, Payson

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