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Tourism programs seeking support from the City of Williamsburg will now have a more rigorous process to deal with.
The Williamsburg City Council unanimously approved a set of criteria for awarding grants to Williamsburg-area projects and activities that want to tap into a portion of the city’s one-time tourism promotion contingency fund.
The fund was created during the city’s 2014-15 budget process as a $250,000 pool to support tourism programming in the Williamsburg area. The fund had been used seven times to date to provide support for area organizations, like Festival Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Hotel-Motel Association, leaving $78,835 in the fund.
Until Thursday, no specific criteria governed the use of the fund, and City Council could vote to award or deny funding to activities and projects for any reason.
At the July Council meeting, Councilman Doug Pons criticized the current structure of the fund, calling it “slipshod,” and encouraging council members to develop a plan for how to allocate the money.
The council asked city staff to develop a list of criteria to govern future applications for funding.
Staff returned Thursday with a set of six criteria applicants should fulfill to be awarded funding:
- Creating new tourism programming or adding to existing tourism programming
- Driving overnight visitation
- Potential return on investment
- Complementing existing tourism programming in the area
- Providing marketing, attendance and return on investment data to the city after the programming has concluded
- Allowing the city to be listed as a sponsor for the programming
Under the new process, applicants would submit requests to the City Manager’s office for initial review by city staff.
A staff committee, consisting of the city manager, deputy city manager, economic development director, parks and recreation director and finance director would review the request and offer a recommendation to the City Council for consideration.
The fund is a one-time contingency, but could be renewed by the City Council in the future.