Local champions of the NRV win state matching grants

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Local promoters of the New River Valley received grants from the state tourism corporation through the Bolster Growth Program this week.

Montgomery County Regional Tourism Office was awarded $40,000 for its Seasons campaign and the New River Valley Regional Commission received $3250 for its Explore NRV website, the office of the governor announced in a press release this week.

The two entities were among 44 local tourism programs to receive roughly $965,000 in public private matching grant marketing funds.

Collectively, the money, distributed across the state, will generate more than $3.8 million in marketing initiatives and impact more than 182 statewide tourism entities the announcement said.

The Bolster Growth Program is part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Marketing Leverage Program (MLP). The MLP grants are designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of the state grants funds.

In the matching grand program, local partners will commit more than $2.8 million to match the VTC grants, said the announcement, providing more than $3.8 million in new marketing funds to increase visitation to Virginia.

The grants are expected to ultimately impact at least 182 other statewide tourism entities.

“As we celebrate five decades of the iconic ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ slogan this year, I am thrilled to see such tremendous partnership, innovation, and growth within one of our most important industries,” said Governor Northam. “Tourism entities throughout Virginia understand the value of strategic and innovative marketing initiatives in promoting what makes this Commonwealth a great place to live, work, and visit. These grant funds are designed to support exciting new development projects and programs that will help attract more travelers and increase visitor spending, while also improving our communities, generating revenue for our regional economies, and creating job opportunities for Virginians.”

The VTC Marketing Leverage Program is designed to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, stimulating new tourism marketing through partnerships, and extending the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand.

A minimum of three Virginia entities must partner financially to apply for a grant. Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other tourism-related businesses.

In total, VTC awards approximately $1.7 million annually—matched and leveraged on average 3:1 by partner dollars, the announcement said.

“The tourism industry has an incredible impact on Virginia’s economy, and the development of new tourism product is essential to our success,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Last year, visitors to Virginia spent $26 billion, which supported 234,000 work opportunities in our communities and contributed $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. By leveraging the power of public-private partnerships, the Marketing Leverage Program grants will help inject even more critical dollars back into Virginia’s economy.”

The next round of VTC Marketing Leverage Program grants will open on Sept. 10, 2019 with a Dec. 17, 2019 deadline. Localities interested in applying may visit www.vatc.org for more information.

The Barter Theatre, Virginia’s farmers’ markets, farms, spirit trails, The Crooked Road and Rooster Walk are among the winners in southwest Virginia.

For a list all 44 Marketing Leverage Program grant recipients, visit www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2019/august/headline-846048-en.html

— Staff reports