(Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, KY) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 19--Gov. Steve Beshear's decision earlier this year to take $9 million out of a state fund restricted for tourism, meeting and convention marketing and put it in the state's general fund could impact local festivals and attractions.
The Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau received $104,000 last year in state matching funds that came from a statewide 1 percent transient room tax created in 2005 to promote tourism.
But Shannon Wetzel, the CVB's executive director, told her board earlier this week that she likely won't know until October how much of a hit the program will take because the governor is taking $9 million out of the program.
So, the board decided to table all community grants until it finds out how much it will receive in matching funds from the state this year.
"If we're looking at a $100,000 hit to our budget, it would be unwise to continue" the grants, board member Ruth Ann Dearness said. "But I hope we can bring them back at some point."
Last September, the board voted to table the Community Investment Grants for six months while it studied the best way to handle them.
"We need to get a better feel for what we want to accomplish," board chairman Rick Hobgood said then.
The board had budgeted $30,000 for the grants.
This week, Hobgood said, "We need to continue to table the program for the time being. We'll still help promote activities, and we can still give money to events if we decide to. But we're not going to take applications for grants for the time being because of the uncertainty of state matching funds."
Monday, Darren Peach began his duties as sales director for the CVB.
His duties will include helping market festivals and attractions, Hobgood said.
That will take the place of some of what the grants did, he said.
The grant program was established in July 2011.
The objectives at the time were to promote the community as a year-round travel destination, to increase awareness of local events and to create an economic impact by expanding marketing opportunities for events.
Keith Lawrence, 691-7301, firstname.lastname@example.org
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