• WisBusiness

Friday, July 11, 2014

MaryBeth Matzek: State funds help market events, draw in tourists


By MaryBeth Matzek
The key to any successful event is getting out the word and a grant program through the Wisconsin Department of Tourism helps organizations do just that.

The Joint Effort Marketing grant program is one of the best ways that groups planning special events can advertise their activities. Tourism is an integral part of Wisconsin’s economy, with visitors spending $17.5 billion in the state in 2013, according to research conducted by Tourism Economics. Special events – whether it’s a music festival or arts exhibition– attract visitors and encourage those travelers already here to stay a little longer.

“A JEM grant is a great way for communities to tap into the power of tourism to have a solid impact on the local economy and create jobs,” says Abbie Hill, grants coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. “It really leads to developing better events.”

With the JEM program, non-profit organizations can receive up to $39,550 in grants to reimburse their marketing expenses, whether it’s placing newspaper and TV ads or developing marketing materials, such as posters and websites.

A JEM grant can mean the difference between an event being successful or just staying an idea, Hill says. While JEM grants are usually just for an event’s first year, grant support in declining amounts can be offered in subsequent years.

Recent events to receive JEM grants include the Mile of Music in Appleton, which features more than 200 bands at 60 venues in downtown Appleton on Aug. 7-10, and the new Whooping Crane Festival, which will be held Sept. 11-14 in Princeton.

“Without our support, some of these events wouldn’t get off the ground or they wouldn’t be able to have the desired impact,” Hill says. “We want events to be successful and continue to grow, drawing more visitors – and their spending dollars – to an area.”

And how much money do events bring in? For Mile of Music, organizers predict an economic impact of $478,000 as visitors spend time at local hotels, stores and restaurants. For the new Whooping Crane Festival, an estimated $146,000 in traveler spending is projected.

Getting a JEM grant is a daunting process since organizations need to go through multiple reviews to make sure that the funds will be a good fit. In addition, organizations are only reimbursed after they spend funds on marketing as a way to ensure it’s going to the right place.

“The grant process is a great planning tool for events since they need to determine how many people they expect to attend and then we can apply a multiplier to it to determine how much economic impact it will have on an area,” says Hill, adding that it may take up to a year for an organization to go through the entire JEM grant process.

Manufacturing growth?

Milwaukee-area manufacturers are optimistic about the second half of 2014, according to a survey out this week from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

“Per quarterly outlook surveys conducted by the MMAC, local manufacturers started out 2014’s first quarter noticeably less optimistic than non-manufacturers on real sales, profit and employment expectations. Survey expectations have changed in the past six months,” Bret Mayborne, MMAC’s economic research director, wrote in the report. “As we enter 2014’s third quarter, survey results now indicate manufacturers are equally optimistic toward future prospects on sales and profits and somewhat more optimistic on third-quarter employment levels. These results suggest that a better manufacturing trend may be on the near-term horizon.”

While manufacturing grew from mid-2010 to mid-2013, the past year has been less positive, with more companies reporting fewer manufacturing jobs and shorter workweeks.

Great place to work

Automotive News recognized Neenah-based Bergstrom Automotive – the largest dealership in Wisconsin – as one of the top three U.S. dealerships to work for. In addition to Bergstrom, Penske Automotive Group and AutoNation were also recognized.

Automotive News, a publication of the automotive industry, conducted in-depth research, talking with employees and getting a feeling of what it’s like to work at a particular site.

Bergstrom has 1,400 employees at dealerships throughout the Fox Valley, Milwaukee and Milwaukee.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.


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