City accepting grant applications for tourism-generating projects, events

Staff writer

New and existing tourism-generating projects and events in Williamsburg looking for city funding have until March 29 to submit initial applications to the city’s Tourism Development Grant Review Committee.

Later this year, the new city board will review applications and recommend how City Council should dole out $2.1 million from SB 942 and room tax revenue set aside to drive local tourism. The phase one application, now live on the city’s website, consists of general informational questions along with the project’s expected budget, funding sources and estimated impact.

Any city project that can be shown to increase patronage to city restaurants, attractions, hotels and events can qualify and be considered, according to a news release from the city.

City staff will review the first wave of grant applications, and eligible applicants will be invited back to submit a phase two application. This second wave will require applicants to submit more detailed information, including economic impact studies, artistic renderings, market analysis and a business plan in addition to a standardized application packet.

“Phase two is an exhaustive process. It requires a lot of data that they’ll have to produce, so this makes the most sense, where they pitch their initial idea and you all determine who moves forward to phase two,” city tourism development specialist Lysa Byham told the review committee at its first meeting earlier this month.

Phase two applications will be due May 19. The Tourism Development Grant Review Committee will then reconvene to review applications and recommend a funding plan to City Council. Board members include chairman Christopher Caracci, vice chairman Andrew Voss, Scott Foster, Craig Reeves and Sally Wolfe. Planning Commission and Economic Development Authority chairs Elaine McBeth and Adam Steely serve as non-voting, ex-officio members.

In September, Caracci is expected to present a recommended funding plan to City Council, which has the final authority to allocate grants. Grants will be awarded at council’s October meeting.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Byham for more information at lbyham@williamsburgva.gov or 757-220-6129. Phase one grant applications can be found at bit.ly/2tuY1ZQ, and are due by 4 p.m. March 29.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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