Tourism Grants Help Propel Growth

By: 
Judy Kramer
Benton County Sheriff
There are many good reasons to visit Benton County, including fishing, hunting, parks, the Truman Lake Visitor Center and special events like Jubilee Days, Heritage Days, and Oktoberfest. In fact, 45,778 people went to the Truman Visitor Center alone in 2018 from March 15 through the Kaysinger Christmas on December 7 and 8. Tourism is good for our economy and nonprofit businesses and organizations in the county are encouraged to help promote it and while getting grants to cover expenses.
Grant guidelines and application forms are being issued by the Benton County Tourism and Recreation Corporation. They are available on a competitive basis to any visitor attraction, community event, or area (more than one community) event held within Benton County with nonprofit (501C3), or other non-profit status whose primary purpose is to encourage tourism and generally promote Benton County. Proof of nonprofit status must accompany the application.
Funds for the grants are available through the collection of Lodging (Guest) Tax in Benton County. County Ordinance Number BE-10-24-16 states that these funds are to be used to generally promote, encourage, and attract visitors to Benton County and to attend tourism events and activities.
Funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis. Once an application is approved, the applicant will provide a report and proof of use of the funds (receipts, cancelled checks, etc.) to the Tourism and Recreation Corporation within 60 days of the completion of the activity or event. The Corporation will then reimburse the applicant for an approved grant amount.
Applications for 2019 grants are being accepted until to January 15, 2019. Only one grant may be submitted for each project, and the budget must accompany the application. Applications will not be considered if they are received late, or are lacking required information.
Sample uses for grant tourism promotion funds include 1) Event advertising, posters, etc. – TV or radio commercials – Website development (Preference will be given to applicants who utilize Benton County businesses and services for the project.), 2) Facility improvements such as painting, repairs, etc., 3) Signage improvements, especially those which will make it easier for visitors to find/locate tourism attractions, 4) Expansion of services at event venues, i.e. special acts, attractions or unique assets (Preference will be given to applicants who utilize Benton County businesses and services for the project.)
Items that are not considered for funding include: 1) Giveaways prior to or during the event (i.e. trophies, t-shirts, etc.), 2) Travel expenses or charter vehicle expenses, 3) Reception room or social event activities prior to or during the event, 4) Temporary use supplies or equipment (items which will not remain fixed assets of the grantee), 5) Funds for general operating expenses, 6) Additional or current personnel salaries, 6) Items not included in the Approved Grant Application, and 8) Any assistance that does not conform to the intent of the Tourism Ordnance.
Applications and complete Guidelines can be found at www.visitbentoncomo.com, or by calling Lynette Stokes at 660-438-2090. Completed applications should be emailed to lstokes@visitbentoncomo.com or mailed to Benton County Tourism, P.O. Box 1245, Warsaw, MO 65355. Notification of results will be made public in February of 2019 and letters will be mailed to organizations who submitted applications.

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