Tourism Development Fund issues first grant awards
The Stevens Point Area Tourism Development Committee recently issued its first grant awards to the Green Circle Trail and the Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve to assist in projects that will attract visitors to the area.
Awards were $13,000 and $5,000 respectively. The Stevens Point Area Tourism Development Committee distributes a percentage of room tax revenue for the development, continuance or expansion of visitor attractions and amenities to nonprofits and units of government.
The next deadline for applications is March 1. To apply, please review the grant requirements in full at StevensPointArea.com/grant. Applicants must also be located within the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau service area, representing all of Portage County.
Grant applications can be submitted for costs related to the development of Stevens Point area visitor attractions and amenities. Grant applications are reviewed and considered by the Tourism Development Committee.
Capital and special projects by nonprofit or government units are eligible. All grant applications will be reviewed based on tourism and operational criteria. Projects must contribute to the ability to attract visitors and improve overall tourism assets in the Stevens Point area.
“We are thrilled to support the Green Circle Trail and Schmeeckle Reserve in their efforts to create spaces that add to the tourism value here in the Stevens Point area,” said Sara Brish, executive director of the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The funds for Green Circle Trail will go toward the construction for a trailhead project, which will serve as a public gateway to the 27-mile Green Circle Trail. An estimated 125,000 people use the trail annually, including 70 percent from the local area, 22 percent from elsewhere in the state, and 7 percent from out-of-state.
The trailhead will feature a 50-person, open-air shelter constructed of stone and timber, a fully insulated year-round restroom facility and an overflow parking lot. The shelter will be dedicated in honor of Roy Menzel, one of the founders of the Green Circle.
“We’re grateful to the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for funding projects that enhance our community and attract visitors from throughout the region and state,” said Nick Schultz, president of the volunteer Green Circle Board through 2017.
The estimated cost of the project is $700,000. Portage County has applied for a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant to cover half of the cost, and the John Noel family has pledged $250,000 in support.
The funds given to the Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve will go toward the Pankowski Friends Amphitheater project, which is the first major capital improvement project for the Friends of Schmeeckle organization.
The project will provide an outdoor space for Friends-sponsored educational programs and special events, including Candlelight Hike Festivals that attract more than 4,000 people annually. It will also serve as a unique venue for community programs, plays, concerts and other performances. The amphitheater will be designed with sandstone seating for 200, a timber-frame stage with lighting and sound and native landscaping.
“The Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve are profoundly grateful for this grant, helping us to create a unique gathering place that will serve our community for years to come,” said Jerry Lineberger, president of the Friends group.
The estimated cost of the project is $235,000. Local donors Dallas and Edith Pankowski kick-started the fundraising with a $40,000 contribution. Additional donations are being accepted. For more information, visit www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/schmeeckle/Pages/friends/amphitheater.aspx.
The Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is an economic and community development organization whose purpose is to expand Portage County’s economy by attracting conventions, sporting events and leisure tourists to Portage County. Millions of dollars from visitor spending and increased tax revenues are generated to increase commerce, sustain jobs and to create a desirable destination.
For more information, visit StevensPointArea.com. The SPACVB can also be found on Facebook (facebook.com/StevensPointArea), Twitter (twitter.com/StevensPtArea), Pinterest (pinterest.com/StevensPtArea) and Instagram (instagram.com/stevenspointarea).