Inderlied settling in as new CVB director

5/3/2013

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

It's been a busy first month for Kimberlea Inderlied, the new executive director of Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Hired in mid-March by the CVB board of directors, Inderlied moved to Garden City from Tulsa and began work on March 29. She said during an interview Thursday that the CVB will operate more transparently with its budget and expenditures than it has in the past, and it is also making some changes in the way it awards funding for event grants.

The CVB is funded by a county lodging occupancy tax and is responsible for marketing Finney County's facilities and attractions to visitors and businesses.

Inderlied said CVB is working on a new way to handle the grant request process to make it easier for people to understand, and to make the approval process more transparent.

Instead of considering grant applications as they come in, the CVB will create two grant periods per year, and will conduct grant workshops to help applicants submit the information CVB needs to make an informed decision, she said.

Projects will be graded on a point system based on how well they meet certain criteria that promotes convention and tourism in the community.

"I think it will take a lot of the subjectivity out of it," Inderlied said.

Inderlied anticipates the new system will be ready to go in about a month. Ideally, applicants will come to the CVB far in advance of their events, she said.

"We're going to say to folks, you need to hit us up at least six months in advance before your event, if not a year. What I envision is, let's get the financing in place first. Then you know exactly what you need," she said.

Inderlied grew up in Buffalo, Okla., a small town in western Oklahoma about 135 miles from Garden City, though her grandmother, Aileen Inderlied, lived in Garden City.

A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Inderlied was a teacher for 16 years, both in public schools and for the University of Tulsa, before switching gears to work in corporate training and sales in the telecommunications industry, as well as various jobs involving information technology.

Her most recent job was as an IT manager for Enterprise Holdings Inc., one of the largest privately-held companies in the U.S., and the largest car rental service provider in the world, operating almost 1.3 million cars and trucks, and with annual revenues of $15.4 billion, according the company's website.

With Enterprise, Inderlied was a project manager involved in the transition of the company's 75,000 employees to a new intranet communications and information management system.

She has also lived in South America, teaching at an American school in Colombia and in a mining camp in the Guajira Desert, mostly teaching English and English as a second language.

"I was much braver when I was 24 than I am now. It was an eye-opening experience," she said. "This is about my sixth career now."

Interestingly, Inderlied was considering moving to Garden City even before she applied for the job with CVB. She has friends in Garden City, and fell in love with the area while doing some traveling.

"It's hard to explain. It's just the prettiest place," she said. "Fifteen minutes out of town, there's something new to see and everybody is so nice."

Her superiors at Enterprise were working on an arrangement that would have allowed Inderlied to work from home in Garden City, but Inderlied didn't like the idea of being stuck in her house for 12 to 14 hours a day, her usual work day.

Fortunately, someone sent her the CVB job notice. At first, Inderlied was skeptical, but warmed to the idea after reading the job description several times and concluding it was similar to the project management positions she has held in the past.

"The great thing about this job is you get to be part of the community almost right away. I've had my picture in the paper now twice and I didn't even have to get arrested. Not that I've ever been arrested," Inderlied said with a laugh.

Inderlied is excited about her new job, and believes Finney County is in a strong position to compete for tourist-related dollars noting that in 2011, Finney County brought in almost $125 million just from tourism.

In addition, that number was about $20 million more than Ford County/Dodge City, which has a casino, she said.

"They beat us in entertainment, but we beat them by $10 million in restaurant sales and $10 million in shopping," she said. "That's because we have great facilities here."

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