WisBusiness: Tourism program returns $30 million to state


MADISON – Communities across Wisconsin brought in more than $30 million in traveler spending this past fiscal year as a result of the Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant program, the state Tourism Department said today. (Fiscal year 2007 ran from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007.)

More than $1.4 million in JEM funding was awarded to 59 non-profit organizations across the state to give an extra marketing boost to special events, sales promotions, or marketing campaigns.

Abbie Hill, the JEM program director, said the $30 million figure is the result of close tracking by hoteliers and other businesses who specifically asked travelers if they were visiting their communities because of a specific promotional effort.

In fiscal year 2006, the state gave out $1.36 million in JEM grants and Badger State communities earned $23.6 million from the effort, Hill said.

According to the 2006 Economic Impact of Expenditures by Travelers in Wisconsin study, travel spending in Wisconsin generated more than 330,000 travel industry jobs and $7.25 billion in income for Wisconsin residents. In 2006, travelers spent a record $12.83 billion in Wisconsin.

Gov. Jim Doyle lauded the program and said “innovative ideas are a Wisconsin tradition and the JEM program helps to strengthen the showcase for travel in our state. I’m proud to support a program that boosts the economy, creates jobs and improves the quality of life in dozens of communities all across Wisconsin.”

Tourism Secretary Kelli A. Trumble said the “acronym coined for Tourism’s Joint Effort Marketing program – fondly referred to as the JEM program – is truly descriptive of how this partnership works across the state.

“Wisconsin is rich with treasures and opportunities to explore and enjoy. When we couple that with the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of our industry partners, the result is a brilliant and astounding array of travel jewels for both residents and travelers to our state to explore.”

The state Department of Tourism’s JEM program is available to non-profit organizations for promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. Funds are available for destination marketing projects, sales promotions, and new, existing and one-time, one-of-a-kind events. JEM partners also get limited planning assistance from the state to assure their event and destination marketing proposals work successfully.

The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project’s first year advertising and marketing costs. The program may grant also provide support for some second and third year projects, but with decreasing amounts for funding each year, until projects become self-sustaining. All projects must be consistent with the statewide tourism marketing strategy.

Ranging from promotions to enjoy the spring smelt season in Bayfield to tasting wine in Lake Geneva, or events exploring the arts of the Renaissance in the Chippewa Valley to fast-pitch ball tournaments in Outagamie County, 2007 JEM grant recipients brought enticing activities and innovative travel destinations to light.

Among the projects funded in fiscal 2007, was “Chippewa Valley’s Unexpected Meeting Space,” a promotional campaign designed to attract new corporate meetings and retreats in specific niche markets.

The JEM program paid for advertising in Minnesota Business, Upsize Minnesota, Religious Conference Manager and Christian Management Report. To date, the Chippewa Valley has received nine confirmed groups, resulting in an economic impact for the area of $293,700.

The Joint Effort Marketing program also awarded $28,000 to the Milwaukee Art Museum to promote the “Biedermeier: The Invention of Simplicity” exhibit to Chicago and Rockford travelers.

This was the first major exhibit in North America of furniture, decorative objects and fine art from the Biedermeier period (1815-1830). The Northern Illinois market flocked to the Milwaukee Art Museum, where media coverage brought Milwaukee to the international art market and more than $3.5 million in traveler spending to the Milwaukee region.

Bike Green County, a partnership between Green County Tourism and Earth Rider, received a $15,674 JEM grant to advertise seasonal biking tours of Green County. Earth Rider is a unique boutique hotel designed for the lifestyle of bicyclists in downtown Brodhead.

“With the help of JEM funds to supplement their marketing budgets, communities were able to add breadth and delightful new twists to Wisconsin’s vast selection of memorable events and destinations,” said Wisconsin Tourism Marketing Director Sarah Klavas.

“What’s really special about the JEM program is how much creativity grant applicants bring to the table along with the desire to take a great idea and develop it into a viable business proposal.”

In the 2007 fiscal year, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism received 98 applications for JEM funding.

To view a map of FY 2007 JEM projects go to: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=12056.