MaryBeth Matzek: State funds help market events, draw in tourists

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion.

The key to any successful event is getting out the word and a grant program through the Wisconsin Department of Tourism helps organizations do just that.

The Joint Effort Marketing grant program is one of the best ways that groups planning special events can advertise their activities. Tourism is an integral part of Wisconsin’s economy, with visitors spending $17.5 billion in the state in 2013, according to research conducted by Tourism Economics. Special events – whether it’s a music festival or arts exhibition– attract visitors and encourage those travelers already here to stay a little longer.

“A JEM grant is a great way for communities to tap into the power of tourism to have a solid impact on the local economy and create jobs,” says Abbie Hill, grants coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. “It really leads to developing better events.”

With the JEM program, non-profit organizations can receive up to $39,550 in grants to reimburse their marketing expenses, whether it’s placing newspaper and TV ads or developing marketing materials, such as posters and websites.

A JEM grant can mean the difference between an event being successful or just staying an idea, Hill says. While JEM grants are usually just for an event’s first year, grant support in declining amounts can be offered in subsequent years.

Read the full column for more