MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The perfect match has come to fruition with the merger of the Morris County Tourism Bureau and the Morris County Economic Development Alliance, which is the nonprofit arm of the Morris County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC).
“Bringing together Tourism and Economic Development into one-unified structure offers an ideal mechanism to leverage and optimize our existing assets while setting the table for additional strategic growth initiatives,” stated Craig Schlosser, who is vice president of the MCEDC and the alliance president.
“The overlap and opportunity for a stronger-unified structure is apparent from a high-level,” he continued. “Both organizations focus on economic development. The Morris County Economic Development Corporation, which is a division of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, focuses primarily on the business-to-business portion of economic development through supporting business growth, attraction and retention while the Tourism Bureau focuses on the business-to-consumer market.”
The Tourism Bureau is a “Destination Marketing Organization,” one of only 13 in New Jersey. The bureau drives thousands of out-of-state visitors to Morris County each year and is considered one of the premiere heritage destination marketing organizations in the state. The merger with MCEDC will enhance the bureau’s marketing abilities, according to Leslie Bensley, the bureau’s former executive director who recently retired and now serves as a consultant for the organization.
“The unified structure allows for a more effective and focused marketing strategy, which can help drive investment from both in-state and out-of-state stakeholders, along with attracting additional visitors to the region,” said Bensley.
Tourism contributes to the quality of life within Morris County, which helps local businesses with employee recruitment and retention. She said the partnership with MCEDC will enable the Tourism Bureau to promote corporate events. In addition, strong tourism benefits local retail businesses, restaurants and hotels, a sector hit particularly hard by COVID, Bensely said.
“This partnership raises many boats,” Bensley said.
The merger of MCEDA and MCTB has been discussed on and off since the mid-1990s but was given a jump start recently by the collective efforts of the Morris County Board of County Commissioners and Meghan Hunscher, president of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce who also sits on the board of directors of the Tourism Bureau.
“There is so much overlap between economic development and the business of tourism that enabling these two organizations to work together more closely made perfect sense,” Hunscher said. “Tourism contributes significantly to the county’s economic engine and EDC is charged with driving that engine to new heights. This makes both stronger.”
Tayfun Selen, director of the Morris County Board of County Commissioners, agreed, “Morris County is a special place to live, work and play,” he said. “We have thriving businesses in many different sectors, an excellent transportation system, superior education and quality of life second to none. Our ability to attract visitors and businesses alike only strengthens the county and this merger advances both those efforts.”
“Local tourism plays an instrumental role in the overall promotion of New Jersey as a destination state. By enhancing the Morris County Tourism Bureau’s ability to better market their attractions and reach greater target audiences, this merger further enriches our statewide effort,” said Jeffrey Vasser, executive director of the New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism.
Since the merger on March 11, the Tourism Bureau and MCEDC have worked together on several key initiatives and programs, which are set to launch in the second quarter of 2022.