County awards $187,000 in 2017 tourism grants

April 27, 2017
Recipients of Washington County tourism grants met Wednesday evening at the LeMoyne House in Washington. - Michael Bradwell/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Fifteen tourist attractions in Washington County received $187,600 in tourism grants Wednesday as the area ramps up for the 2017 travel season.

The recipients, which ranged from those promoting local history and waterways to theater, music and baseball, attended a presentation ceremony in Madeline’s Garden at the LeMoyne House, presented by the Washington County commissioners and the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency.

This year’s top recipients are World Series Tournaments Inc., which received $50,000 for the PONY League World Series, and the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, which got $25,000 for display lighting and the Daniel Tiger Weekend campaign.

Other major recipients are the Bradford House Historical Association ($20,000) for the Whiskey Rebellion Festival promotional campaign; and Washington County Family Entertainment ($20,000) for the Youth Baseball Tournaments promotional campaign.

The money for the awards is generated by the county’s 3 percent tax on hotel rooms. The various attractions apply for funding through WCTPA, detailing their plans for capital improvements and marketing projects and the amounts they are seeking.

The agency’s grants committee reviews the applications, determines the recipients and sends them to the county commissioners for final approval.

Commission Chairman Larry Maggi noted that tourism is a major economic driver in Washington County, which stands alongside others like energy, financial services and advanced manufacturing.

“In fact, tourism continues to be one of the largest industries in the county, with more than $760 million in direct visitor spending and supporting nearly 6,000 jobs according to the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development,” he said.

Commissioner Harlan Shober added that in addition to the $187,600 in grants to the various attractions to assist in their marketing and capital improvement projects, commissioners asked WCTPA to further support the investment by committing an additional $203,000 for an annual marketing campaign.

“Our typical visitor to Washington County is from a two- to three-hour radius, so the marketing campaign will utilize television commercials, regional radio as well as social and digital media promotions to increase awareness and attendance of our events in that market area,” he said.

WCTPA President Jeff Kotula emphasized that the grants presented Wednesday are marketing-based.

“We were very clear that these resources were not to be used for operations, but in a manner that will add new marketing components such as social media and customer-specific advertising.”

WCTPA also launched its new Washington County Attractions guide, a 20-page, full-color brochure featuring the county’s tourist attractions and events, as well as maps, information about hotels and field trip offerings.

Wednesday’s recipients also included the following attractions: Aquatorium Innovations Inc. ($5,000) for Rockin’ on the Mon summer concert series campaign; City of Washington Citywide Development Corp. ($10,000) for Washington Park Main Pavilion Restoration project; Little Lake Theatre Co. ($7,000) for its annual promotion campaign; Marianna Outdoorsmen Association ($4,000), Ten Mile Creek Water Trail promotional campaign; McDonald Volunteer Fire Department ($5,000), McSummerfest promotional campaign; Meadowcroft Rockshelter & Historical Village ($7,700), facility signs and summer promotional campaign; National Duncan Glass Society ($4,000), Duncan & Miller Glass Show and Sale promotional campaign; National Road Heritage Corridor ($7,500), Mon River Towns Program website redevelopment; Peters Township ($10,000), Peterswood Park Amphitheater replacement project; Washington County Historical Society ($4,500), website redevelopment; and Washington Symphony Orchestra ($7,900), annual promotional campaign.

Michael Bradwell has been business editor for the Observer-Reporter since 1995, and was named editor of The Energy Report in 2012. He joined the newspaper in 1990 as a general assignment reporter in the Greene County bureau and has also worked as a copy editor. A 1974 graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a degree in English, he began his career at the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette. Prior to joining the O-R, he served as public relations director for Old Bedford Village, account executive at two Pittsburgh public relations agencies and copywriter for the country’s largest wholesaler of mutual funds.

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