Grant dollars available for promoting local tourism

Pierce County is offering grants totaling $300,000 to individuals, agencies and organizations to promote tourism next year.

The promotion activity must benefit tourism in the unincorporated area or within Bonney Lake, Carbonado, Dupont, Edgewood, Fircrest, Milton, Orting, Roy, Ruston, South Prairie, Steilacoom, Sumner, University Place and Wilkeson.

The application process begins this month. Proposals will be reviewed by the Pierce County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, which will make its selections in June.

The committee’s recommendations will be forwarded to the county executive for inclusion in his proposed 2004 budget.

The County Council will take final budget action in November.
Here are eligible activities:
– Increase tourism by advertising, publicizing and distributing information for the purpose of attracting and welcoming tourists;

– Develop strategies to expand tourism;

– Operate tourism promotional agencies;

– Fund and market events and festivals;

– Construct or renovate tourism-related facilities.

Applications for tourism-promotion grants will be available March 14 at the Pierce County Department of Community Services, 8815 South Tacoma Way, Suite 202.

The applications also can be obtained online at (click Department of Community Services and Community Development).
Completed applications must be submitted to the department no later than April 11.

The grants are funded by a user tax collected from guests by hotels and motels.

A majority of the affected lodging facilities are in the Elbe/Ashford or Crystal Mountain areas near Mount Rainier National Park.

The 12-member Lodging Tax Advisory Committee is chaired by County Councilmember Kevin Wimsett.

The eligible cities and towns have one representative who serves as vice chair; four members represent the lodging industry; four members represent users of the tax process; and the remaining two members are citizens at large.

A non-mandatory workshop for applicants will be held from 10 a.m. to noon March 20 in Community Services offices.

Call 253/798-7205 for questions about the grant application process.