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Grants help those who draw tourists

The Thomson-McDuffie Convention & Visitors Bureau has begun its 2011 grants process, which offers $9,000 to attract tourists to the county.

Applications must be postmarked by Feb. 18.

Elizabeth Vance, the bureau director, said the money from hotel taxes helped the two organizations that applied in 2010 with their efforts to build the county's visibility.

According to a news release from the bureau, funding helped The McDuffie Museum establish a new Web site and helped the Activities Council of Thomson with marketing and advertising for the Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival.

"Obviously the blues festival was a big success this past year," Ms. Vance said.

She said determining the full benefit of the museum's Web site "will take a little bit of time." However, she cited one confirmation of the museum's draw. "You go and check the visitors log, and there are people from out of town," she said.

Museum curator Jenny Lindsey agreed the CVB grant made the new Web site possible. "Without the CVB and Elizabeth, we wouldn't have gotten it done," she said. "It's really exciting."

She praised the Web design company, Kitchco, of Atlanta.

"They were very good at making it come to life," she said.

Ms. Lindsey said the site became active the last week in November. "It's a great tool," she said.

One feature allows visitors to see a map of McDuffie County and to click on locations for more detail. She said she uses the site to inform and to spark curiosity.

"So I just try to give them little bits and pieces and then tell them come on in," she said.

A recent visitor from Hawaii included the notation: "Great!"

Other recent guests were from Northfield, Minn.; Eagle Point, Ore.; and throughout the South.

Don Powers, the vice president of the Thomson Activities Council, said that agency will be a grant applicant again for 2011.

"We used the grant for advertising activities, and it allowed us to more effectively get the word out," he said. "We had people from all over the Southeast who came to the festival."

"We were able to leverage that money to partner with the Georgia Public Broadcasting group, and we probably quadrupled our advertising over the state," he said.

Projects eligible for grants in 2011 must: increase overnight stays in McDuffie County; promote a positive image and increased visibility for the county; increase spending by visitors; and provide programs and activities to attract more tourists.

Only nonprofit organizations may apply. Eligible events must be open to the public. Funding is not intended to offset administrative or other normal operating costs. Approved advertising must carry the bureau's logo and meet other specifications.

Questions about the application form and procedure and other requirements can be addressed to the bureau by calling (706) 597-1000 or by visiting the office at 149 Main St.

A grant committee will review and approve grants, with final ratification from the bureau's board of directors.

First-time applicants must provide a copy of Internal Revenue Service documentation verifying nonprofit status. A line-item budget for the organization also is required.

The application also must contain a brief history of the organization, festival or event, including date founded and mission statement.

All applicants must provide information on the board of directors, an event summary, a marketing plan, a proposed budget, and methods for calculating attendance.



Web posted on Thursday, January 06, 2011













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