Wed, May 22

Publisher counters Rose's resignation statements

Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce member Chuck Hutto was not pleased when he read what Steve Rose had to say upon his resignation as a non-voting board member of the chamber.

Hutto, a map and travel brochure publisher who lives in Sedona and has 30 years in the publishing business in California and Arizona, flatly disagrees with Rose's contentions about a membership directory. The decision by the chamber to not publish a directory was the central point behind Rose's resignation.

In an interview in Cottonwood Monday, Hutto categorically denied Rose's contentions about the chamber of commerce and the directory.

"When people come in to the chamber of commerce, they only want one or two pieces of information," Hutto said. "It is not productive to give them a $3 or $4 book."

Hutto's company, J & H Publishing, Ltd., publishes several of the maps and brochures available at the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce and at other chambers throughout the state. He has had experience with publishing chamber directories like the one Rose wanted to see the Cottonwood chamber produce. Hutto said he advised Cottonwood chamber President Gary Wasson and chamber Executive Director Pete Sesow against producing a membership directory.

"Based on my years of experience, I told (Sesow and Wasson) that a directory was not warranted," Hutto said. "After knowing the market for eight years ... it is my personal opinion that there would not be the advertising to support this project."

Hutto also contended he was right in saying the chamber did not have the staff to produce a directory.

"You have to get the information to the publisher, and that is the chamber's responsibility," Hutto said. "There are only two paid staff members. That would be some achievement."

Another reason Hutto said a directory wasn't needed is that chamber members wanting a listing of all fellow chamber members could get a printed list from the chamber as one of their membership privileges.

The thought of publishing a directory evoked memories of a failed effort several years ago by a less than reputable firm that sold a variety of chambers of commerce on the idea, only to take the money and run, Hutto said. The Cottonwood Chamber was victimized by that company.

Rose had referred to the Sedona Chamber of Commerce's membership directory, Experience Sedona, in showing what was possible in the form of a guide. The high quality, four-color, glossy-paged publication may be a fit for Sedona but not for Cottonwood and the rest of the Verde Valley, according to Hutto.

"That chamber (Sedona) has more than 1,000 members, many of them high-end galleries" he said. "Frankly, they can afford it."

A directory might be possible in the future, Hutto said, when the Verde Valley has grown some more.

Finally, Hutto countered Rose's point that chamber membership should be higher.

"They should have more members than they do. There are at least 1,200 business in the area and only about 400 or so are chamber members," Rose said.

"I think that's a pretty good average," Hutto countered. "Retention (of members) is pretty high in this chamber and that has to be a positive as far as membership."