MANTENO — The Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau has closed its Manteno office and, like so many other people and organizations in this harsh economic climate, will be completing work remotely.
CVB Executive Director Staci Wilken announced Wednesday that work within the 4,000-square-foot office will cease as of the Oct. 1.
The CVB has been paying a monthly rent of $4,200 for the space at 100 Marquette Place South, in Manteno, owned by Bourbonnais-based Municipal Bank.
The office opened in April 2016. Prior to relocating to Manteno, the office had been located in downtown Kankakee and in Bradley.
“Our needs have changed,” she stated.
Wilken is working toward the development of a virtual office.
The organization once had a staff of five to six people — mainly part-time staff other than Wilken — but due to the loss of the Chicago Bears summer camp, the dissolution of Zagster and the Bike 609 bike share program, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for such a large space is no longer warranted, Wilken said.
“There have certainly been decreases in travel and tourism due to what has been taking place. The (CVB) board has discussed this for the past four to five months. This board has had to make some hard decisions,” she said. “We’ve certainly had a lot of good memories there. We are not alone when it comes to closing an office.”
Wilken said there are some things which are just out of the control of an organization and this is one example.
“Maybe by closing one chapter and opening a new one something great will emerge. We are certainly not the only organization or business which is reinventing itself right now,” she said.
CVB board president Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong said the board has supported Wilken every step of the way, but “unfortunately with the uncertainty ahead we have been tasked with making some tough decisions.”
Wilken said, “The loss of employees, and now the visitor center, breaks my heart. Like so many in the travel and tourism industry, my team devoted 40-plus hours a week to promoting Kankakee County as a destination.”
Wilken noted which her office location will change, her focus will not.
“My job is to continue telling our story and like so many, I can reinvent where I do that.”