The York County Tourism Grant Committee announced Wednesday that it awarded more than $800,000 to 18 projects selected as the first-ever recipients of York County Tourism Grants.
After receiving more than 60 applications totaling more than $10 million in requests, the Committee chose recipients based upon a project’s ability to boost tourism in York County, while tapping into industry trends and maximizing economic impact through overnight stays, said Eric Menzer, Chair of the Grant Committee and President of the York Revolution.
“Today we’re funding an array of innovative projects that represent a broad range of ideas to grow tourism and enhance the visitor experience in York County,” Menzer said. “When we started this journey, we said we wanted projects that would make the greatest impact, and the Committee believes the first class of recipients has set a high bar for future awards.”
Grants will be awarded to the following organizations:
- Military Vehicle Preservation Association: $32,000 to bring the International Convention of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association to York
- Mason-Dixon Business Association: $2,500 for Discover Delta and the marketing of recreation, history, shops and restaurants
- Red Lion High School Student Council: $10,000 to assist with the hosting of the 2017 PA Association of Student Councils State Conference in York
- York County Rail Trail Authority: $100,000 to complete the Northern Extension of the Heritage Rail Trail*
- YWCA York: $7,861 for the YWCA York’s Synchronized Swimming Meet
- York Expo Center/York Fair: $66,000 for the York Agricultural Society Action Plan for the Future*
- York Expo Center/York Fair: $55,350 to host the AAU Middle Atlantic Wrestling Association’s Eastern National Wrestling in 2019 and 2020*
- York Expo Center/York Fair: $30,000 for Wi-Fi upgrades at the York Expo Center
- We Build You Play Sports Group: $45,000 for the York Invitational volleyball competition
- Borough of Spring Grove: $13,000 to create the Smoke in the Grove BBQ Competition
- Bailey Leasing, Inc.: $5,250 for a York County Promotional Motorcoach
- Steam Into History: $40,000 for an additional coach to expand operations
- YMCA of York and York County: $40,000 for improvements to the Graham Aquatic Center for competitive swim events
- City of York: $225,000 for Memorial Park softball field improvements*
- Main Street Hanover: $50,000 for Downtown Tourism Development Program
- Hanover Area Historical Society: $5,000 to market the Carriage House Museum
- Susquehanna Heritage: $50,000 for Susquehanna Riverlands – Zimmerman Center hour expansion and destination marketing
- York County History Center: $50,000 for Tourism Asset Development for the new York County History Center
*Indicates multi-year grant
In addition to the $826,961 that will be distributed to these 18 projects, the committee has also reserved $100,000 for a York County branding initiative between the York County Community Foundation and Downtown Inc.
“The grant program has always stressed the importance of collaboration. Upon receiving multiple applications seeking funding for a York County branding initiative, we decided to schedule a meeting with the various organizations to work toward that goal in a cohesive way,” Menzer said.
“I also have to say that this was incredibly difficult,” Menzer added. “It’s very clear that there was huge pent-up demand for this program. I assume some of the applicants will hone their ideas and apply again in the next round or next year. Fortunately, with a predictable funding source we will be able to have this kind of impact every year for the foreseeable future.”
Wednesday’s grant awards are the culmination of years of lobbying that resulted in a 2016 state law allowing York County and more than 50 other counties to further invest in local tourism through their hotel room tax rate.
York County Commissioners were the first in the state to take advantage of the new law when they raised the local hotel room tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent last spring. The new rate went into effect in July, with 33 percent of all room tax revenue now dedicated to the grant program.
After receiving applications in February, the Grant Committee spent more than two months reviewing them before reaching a decision. The York County Convention & Visitors Board of Directors ratified the Committee’s selections May 4.
“The Board thanks the Grant Committee for its diligence and dedication to funding projects that will draw more people to York County and enhance their experience while they’re here,” said Liz Winand, Chair of the YCCVB Board of Directors. “This is a wise investment of the York County hotel room tax and a sign that our already flourishing tourism industry has even greater days ahead.”
The York County Tourism Grant Program will open for a second round of smaller awards starting July 10. The maximum grant request will be $10,000. Approximately $60,000 is available.
As was the case for the first round, all grant applicants must provide a 25 percent cash or in-kind match. The Grant Committee will announce Round 2 recipients by October 12.
The timetable for the next round of large grants will be similar to this year, with an application period opening in early 2018 and awards by June.
Questions about the application process may be directed to the York County CVB.
In addition to Menzer, the York County Tourism Grant Committee is comprised of State Representative Kate Klunk, York County Commissioner Susan Byrnes, York County Economic Alliance President and CEO Kevin Schreiber, RKL Partner and YCCVB Board Member Rob Berkebile, Springwood Hospitality CEO Dave Hogg and Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce Marketing and Public Relations Director Katy King.
The York County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Mission is to maximize tourism expenditures and their economic impact in York County, PA, through comprehensive tourism sales and marketing programs. The York County CVB’s Vision is for a York County where tourism is recognized for the value of its economic impact and its role in raising the profile of York County as a sought-after destination. For more information on the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, call 1-888-858-9675 or visit www.yorkpa.org.