Pictured in attached photo (L-R): Chris Smith, Bill Dowell, Chelsey Jones, Terry Hasseltine, Dan Williams, Art Cooley
On Wednesday May 24, the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce held its Business After Hours, hosted by Wicomico County’s Tourism Division. The event recognized the division’s strongest partners during a reception and awards ceremony at the Wicomico County Visitor’s Center. The reception has been held annually since 2000, and acknowledges businesses and members of the community who have tirelessly endeavored to support tourism initiatives in Wicomico County. The awards given include: Tourism Volunteer of the Year, Tourism Hospitality Award, Business of the Year, Partner of the Year, and Tourism Person of the Year (Betty K. Gardner Award)
According to the Wicomico County Tourism Division, in its 2017 Fiscal Year, they sold or held 50 events, seven of which were recognized as of regional or national caliber. The events generated more than 35,000 nights of hotel stay, 130,000 visitors and an estimated economic boon of $50 million. The division believes its success is due in part to tourism’s many community partners which assist the county in recruiting new events, maintain and burgeon current events, and welcome event attendees into the community.
The recipient of this year’s award of Tourism Volunteer was The Rotary Club of Salisbury, accepted by Dan Williams and Art Cooley. The Rotary Club has been an integral partner in the Governor’s Challenge Basketball Tournament held at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center each December.
In 2016, the Rotary Club of Salisbury brought Governor’s Challenge sponsorship sales to record levels, raising awareness of the event and contributing to its success. The benefits of their work extended beyond the tournament. Their new 3-Point Initiative grant recycled the commission earned from sponsorship sales back into the community to support local non-profit organizations.
The Tourism Hospitality award winner was Jenifer Prokofiew, the general manager of the Hampton Inn Salisbury, and President of the Hotel Motel Association. The award was accepted by Chelsey Jones. Prokofiew is a strong supporter of Wicomico tourism. Prokofiew has housed potential event organizers and volunteered her property as a host hotel when needed. Through her role as the HMA president, she acts as a liaison between the tourism office and their hotel partners.
The Business of the Year award was Pepsi Bottling Ventures, accepted by Chris Smith. Pepsi Bottling Ventures supports Wicomico County’s Recreation, Parks & Tourism Department, both financially and through in-kind donations, ensuring success at many of the county’s events. They continue to sponsor family-oriented events at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center including the rodeo and monster trucks. They also provide directional signs for the USSSA World Series, and donate products for a designated drivers hospitality drink station at the Good Beer and Autumn Wine festivals.
Terry Hasseltine of Maryland Sports was awarded “Partner of The Year.” Hasseltine is an invaluable advocate for Maryland in the sports marketing industry. For his efforts, he was most recently recognized as the 2017 Sport Tourism Executive of the Year by the National Association of Sports Commissions. The strong brand and reputation he has garnered within the industry continues to draw sporting events to Wicomico County and Maryland as a whole.
Bill Dowell of USSSA received the prestigious Tourism Person of the Year/Betty K. Gardner Award. Dowell has driven events to Wicomico County since 2007. The USSSA Eastern World Series began over a decade ago, and has since grown to span three weeks of play, and bring up to 400 teams to the Shore each year. With family, friends, staff and and fans, from 14 states and Canada, teams bring 4,500 people to the Shore each year. Dowell’s organization has brought over 2,000 softball teams to Wicomico County, contributing more than $100 million dollars to local economy.
For more information about the county’s Tourism Division, contact Niki Wheatley at 410-548-4900 extension 102 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. For opportunities to host a SACC Business After Hours, contact Lauren Alfes at email@example.com or 410-749-0144.