Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Ocean City officials acknowledge the official name of its convention center can be problematic at times, but they assured me this week there’s no plan to drop its namesake, Roland E. Powell, as had been rumored.

When asked if it was true the city was considering simply renaming it the Ocean City Convention Center this week, Roland E. Powell Convention Center Director Rick Hamilton said, “don’t get me run out of town just yet.”

“There’s no intention or any thought of removing Roland E. Powell’s name from the building. That being said, it can be difficult sometimes to market a name of a local celebrity outside the area when people don’t know who that is. So, on some of our outside marketing materials we put Ocean City Convention Center and some of our clients put that rather than its official name. That’s their prerogative and we don’t encourage it, it’s just something they do for identification purposes,” said Hamilton. “If you use Ocean City vs. Roland E. Powell, and no disrespect to Mr. Powell, it goes a lot farther when you are outside the immediate area.”

According to Hamilton, to further prove no plans are in the works, he recently ordered a sign for a new conference center in the building with the logo depicting Powell’s name. Nonetheless, when asked if he had ever considered renaming the facility something like the Ocean City Roland E. Powell Convention Center, Hamilton acknowledged that’s been considered.

“Yes there have been. As a matter of fact, you are going to see some of that coming out in the next calendar year. It will be Ocean City’s Roland E. Powell Convention Center on some of our outside literature,” Hamilton said. “The sign will stay the same and I don’t see any reason to change that or in the future. It’s just for city recognition outside the area.”

Over the last couple months, local liquor license holders have been mum regarding the ongoing controversy involving the Liquor Control Board for Worcester County (LCB). However, it appears they have heard enough from the LCB, particularly the position that its financial picture became gloomy because of a fundamental shift in business philosophy. The LCB has said publicly its lower profit figures of late is a result of reduced markups and direct purchases that were aimed at lowering costs to liquor licensees. At its meeting last week, the LCB confirmed it’s changing its business model to produce better profit numbers, hinting that means licensees will see higher costs than years past.

At a press conference this week, the Worcester County Licensed Beverage Association ended its recent silence, firing back at the LCB and pointing out its members, along with retail shoppers, have been paying more for liquor all along compared to neighboring Wicomico, which returned considerably more profits to its communities this year than Worcester got from its dispensary. The fact is, and the chart on page 8A confirms it, Worcester County has always had a larger mark-up than necessary and particularly compared to Wicomico. LCB officials would probably say that’s because Wicomico does not have the costs associated with a warehouse and other operational expenses associated with the volume of spirits moved, but what’s critical to know here is consumers are getting hit from all angles with higher costs than Wicomico to its west and considerably higher than Delaware to its north.

Over the last month, I have had the occasion of traveling north to New York City and Philadelphia, and it was interesting to see Ocean City advertised heavily in those areas.

While inching along through traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, one of the many billboards featured Ocean City and its official spokesman, Rodney the Lifeguard. A similar billboard was spotted near Philadelphia a couple weeks later. It was placed in a similar high-volume location and featured a similar message that was sure to resonate with the break-light happy crowd. Kudos to the town’s ad agency for selecting these high-profile sites.

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