Wed, June 26

Editorial: Entire Verde Valley is the loser with the departure of Roy Gugliotta

Roy Gugliotta

Roy Gugliotta

So often a changing of the guard in the Verde Valley is viewed from the impact it has on an individual community.

And then there are guys like Roy Gugliotta.

Gugliotta became the former executive director of the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce last week. His position was eliminated after the town reduced its tourism stipend to the chamber by $65,000.

There's no bad guy in this story. The folks at Town Hall are making the kinds of hard decisions necessary in today's economy. The chamber board followed suit. Nobody feels good about it. There are simply no other options.

Obviously, this is a huge loss for the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce. Roy was a tireless advocate for Camp Verde. He wore enough hats and did enough jobs to justify a workload for three people; all the time with a smile on his face.

But Roy's influence was felt well beyond Camp Verde. He understood better than most that the economic and tourism goldmine for any community in Sedona and Verde Valley involved a regional approach to marketing the area.

The soapbox from which he preached saw the Verde Valley as having the greatest concentration of national monuments, state parks, federal wilderness areas, rivers and streams and other tourism amenities than any place in Arizona. He knew that Fort Verde State Park and Montezuma Castle did not attract the attention alone as they did as part of a package deal with Dead Horse Ranch and Jerome state parks, the Verde Canyon Railroad and Blazin' M Ranch.

"People sometimes have a hard time understanding that tourism is also economic development and tourism enriches all our communities in ways some find it hard to see," explained Susan Beach, Cottonwood Chamber board member and past president.

"Roy was a worker ... and always realized how important it is to promote the entire Verde Valley ... He has so much talent and was always willing to share that talent with those who needed it."

Roy was one of the driving forces behind the Sedona Verde Valley Tourism Council. That cooperative venture, explained Beach, has really put the Verde Valley on the Arizona tourism-destination map, "bringing millions of tourism dollars to all our communities."

Likewise, Roy was always among the first to roll up his sleeves to organize and promote events such as the Verde Valley Home and Business Expo. In his own words, "These kind of events go a long way toward providing exposure for both the local businesses and nonprofits of the Verde Valley as a whole."

When we promote the Verde Valley as a whole, every community wins. It's not so much what any single community has to offer individually, but all the bells and whistles we have to sound off collectively. That's how we get the tourists. That's how we generate the dollars.

It also bears emphasis that this was not just about dollars and cents to Roy. It was about building relationships and trust. Roy had as many friends and allies in Cottonwood and Sedona as he did in Camp Verde.

That was never more evident than when former Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce Director Pete Sesow retired following a 20-year run in the position. Gugliotta immediately put the wheels in motion to make sure his Cottonwood counterpart received a proper send-off. Roy was the first to speak up to ensure his friend and colleague was properly recognized.

Obviously, the Verde Valley has lost a valuable asset. Roy Gugliotta championed the cause of Camp Verde every time the opportunity presented itself. He did so in a way that benefited every single community in the Verde Valley. Not enough can be said about how important Roy's big-picture approach to tourism and economic development was to the Verde Valley as a whole.

Again, that speaks to the dollars-and-cents impact Roy has had on our communities.

That's not nearly so important as the person we are losing.

We're losing a good friend.

We will miss you, Roy.