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TOURISM | FEDERAL RELIEF FUNDS

Tony Evers allocates an additional $10 million in federal funding to state's tourism industry

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Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday announced an additional $10 million in federal funds to support Wisconsin’s tourism industry through regional infrastructure projects like conventions centers and public or nonprofit attractions.

The funding comes out of the state’s allocation of federal COVID-19 stimulus funds and adds to the roughly $142.5 million in funding announced by the governor earlier this year for tourism businesses and entertainment venues.

“Wisconsin’s tourism industry was one of the hardest hit throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but these folks are innovative, dedicated and resilient, and we’re working to make sure our tourism industry can bounce back from this pandemic,” Evers said in a statement.

So far, Evers has allocated about $902.5 million of an estimated $2.5 billion in federal stimulus funds allocated to the state. As governor, Evers has sole discretion over the use of those funds.

Speaking with reporters in Ashwaubenon, Evers said grants of up to $3.5 million will be awarded through a competitive process to regional groups to support eligible projects. He anticipated the funding will support a few projects.

Pfizer says new data suggests a third dose of its COVID vaccine can strongly increase protection against the delta variant.

Wisconsin’s tourism industry included more than 157,000 jobs statewide and resulted in a $17.3 billion impact on the state’s economy last year, despite major disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Anne Sayers, the state’s interim tourism secretary.

“From leisure travelers looking to reconnect with friends and family to business travelers attending meetings and conventions, these dollars are crucial to helping our industry bounce back stronger,” Sayers said.

Officials with Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts said they could not comment on the specific grant program announced Tuesday until more details are known, but applauded the state’s commitment to businesses in tourism and entertainment.

“These are wonderful programs, and we appreciate the investment the state is making in organizations like Overture to help us reopen, which will allow us to be part of the revitalization of communities across the state,” Chris Vogel, Overture’s chief financial and operations officer, said in an email.

Officials with Madison’s Olbrich Botanical Gardens and Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center also said it was too early to say for certain if they might apply for the grant funding.

“We haven’t seen the details yet but if we qualify, we’ll seek funding,” Monona Terrace spokesperson Kristen Durst said in an email. “We’re grateful for Governor Evers’ continued support of our industry. It was a rough year, to say the least, and stimulus funding for event venues and tourism has been critical in helping us reopen our facilities and attract future business that will help drive the recovery of our local economy.”

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