Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Business

RV rally participants like Hernando, but will follow if event moves

BROOKSVILLE — You might describe Rudy and Betty Roggenkamp as ultimate RVers.

Every winter, they load up their 36-foot Bounder motor home and head south from Vernon, Conn., to Florida. One of the couple's prime stop-offs has been the annual Southeast Area rally of the Family Motor Coach Association, south of Brooksville.

During their weeklong stay, the Roggenkamps spend money. Lots of it. They shop in local grocery stores, buy fuel for their motor home and try to make at least a couple of visits to their favorite local restaurant, the Masaryktown Cafe on U.S. 41.

"It's a very comfortable place for us," said Betty Roggenkamp, 81. "We love the area, and people here have always been friendly to us."

As this year's rally got under way Wednesday, news that organizers are considering moving the event next year from its 15-year home at Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport to the Volusia County Fairgrounds wasn't greeted with enthusiasm by the Roggenkamps, who have been making the annual trek for the past eight years.

Nonetheless, the couple, like many others who spoke Wednesday to the Times, said they will likely go wherever the event goes.

"We'll have to, if we want to see our friends," said Bob Saunders, 79, of Port Charlotte, who along with his wife, Carol, has attended the event since 2004. "I like the area, but I'm not sure it makes much difference where they hold it. RV people go because of the event, not necessarily the location."

The rally, which runs through Sunday, has always meant an economic boon to Hernando County. Up until a few years ago, the rally typically drew upward of 2,000 motor coaches from throughout the eastern United States. This year's event is expected to attract about 800 coaches.

The decline in attendance has been cause for concern among officers of the motor coach group, who fear that they may be forced to scale back the event in order to make ends meet. Last week, representatives from the association's Southeast region told Hernando County officials that the rising cost of producing the event has outpaced what it takes in at the gate and from vendor space rental.

Southeast chapter president Ralph Marino said the association spends upward of $30,000 a year to rent tents, part of the reason why the group has entered into negotiations with the Volusia County Fair Association to relocate the event to the fairgrounds there.

According to Marino, the fair association's offer includes the use of three permanent buildings, plus other amenities that are not available at the Hernando airport site.

"Not having a permanent building for meetings and activities has been a concern for us for a long time," Marino said. "It's forced us to add expenses we don't feel we need to have."

In the wake of last week's meeting, Hernando County officials agreed to extend the motor coach group's lease through September and to gather information on what it might take to find another hangar for the group to use during its annual rally. They also plan to explore possible construction of a building that could be used by the motor coach group and other organizations that host events at the airport throughout the year.

However, Marino said he's not certain his group can wait much longer to make a decision. He said the association's national executive board will meet Monday in Brooksville to discuss the matter.

"It's unfair to us to keep the (Volusia County) fairgrounds in limbo," Marino said. "We have a lot to do to get ready for next year, and we generally start working on that right after the rally."

Staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report. Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

 
Comments
Lawmakers call for additional investigations into Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource boards

Lawmakers call for additional investigations into Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource boards

Federal and state lawmakers are calling on Congress and the Florida House of Representatives to investigate whether two regional workforce centers inflated the number of people they helped find jobs. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D–St. Petersburg, and sta...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
CEO Nancy Tower’s goal for Tampa Electric: renewable energy

CEO Nancy Tower’s goal for Tampa Electric: renewable energy

TAMPA — Tampa Electric Co.’s future will be green if new CEO Nancy Tower has anything to say about it. Speaking at a University of Tampa panel Tuesday, Tower outlined her plan to move the Tampa-based utility toward a completely renewable energy portf...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Chase to make $20B investment, raise wages

Chase to make $20B investment, raise wages

JPMorgan Chase announced Tuesday that it will boost wages, open new branches and hire thousands of new workers, citing improved economic performance and sweeping changes to the U.S. tax code. Wages will rise to between $15 and $18 an hour from a rang...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Disney offering staff $1,000 bonuses, new education funding

Disney offering staff $1,000 bonuses, new education funding

NEW YORK — The Walt Disney Co. will give more than 125,000 eligible employees a one-time $1,000 cash bonus and invest $50 million in an education funding program. The media company said Tuesday the bonuses will go to all full and part-time non-execut...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa micro housing advocates find big demand for living small

Tampa micro housing advocates find big demand for living small

TAMPA — When Omar Garcia announced plans to transform a vacant downtown office building into 120 micro apartments of about 300 square feet each, the calls and checks poured in."We got 90 reservations like that," Garcia said Tuesday, snapping his fing...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Elon Musk’s new pay package tied to massive Tesla growth

Elon Musk’s new pay package tied to massive Tesla growth

Associated PressPALO ALTO, Calif.— Elon Musk will remain at Tesla Inc. under a 10-year, all-or-nothing pay package that demands massive growth. The agreement, revealed Tuesday in a regulatory filing, requires that Tesla grow in $50 billion leaps, to ...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Verizon misses its profit forecast

Associated PressNEW YORK — Verizon Communications Inc. on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $18.67 billion.On a per-share basis, the New York-based company said it had profits of $4.56. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Hungry at Gasparilla? Eight great restaurants near the parade route

Hungry at Gasparilla? Eight great restaurants near the parade route

GASPARILLA: THE DINING EDITIONGasparilla. Some things are certain. There will be scantily clad pirates and liquid libations. At some point, it is advised to eat some food. Here are some of the top places that are easily accessed along the invasion ro...
Published: 01/23/18

Pasco Business Digest for Jan. 26

Business digestBrieflySMALL BUSINESS BRIDGE LOANS HELP PASCO: The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida facilitated 141 Florida Emergency Bridge Loans, totalling $7,515,100 in funding. In Pasco County, eight loa...
Published: 01/23/18

Hernando Business Digest for Jan. 26

Business digestBrieflySMALL BUSINESS BRIDGE LOANS HELP HERNANDO: The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida facilitated 141 Florida Emergency Bridge Loans, totalling $7,515,100 in funding. In Hernando County, eig...
Published: 01/23/18