JCTDA launches fund for tourism capital projects

The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority will open applications for its first round of funding for tourism capital projects this year. This gives community actors the opportunity to request money to fund projects that improve the community for tourists and residents.

“The possibilities are pretty wide open for what we can fund,” Breedlove said. “We do this for the benefit of the community. Visitors come here, they spend money, but we want to reinvest those funds for the benefit of both the visitor and the residents.

In western North Carolina, Buncombe County used the Tourism Capital Projects Fund to expand its network of greenways, along with nearly 40 other community projects. In total, Buncombe spent $44 million to improve the community through the capital project fund.

Capital projects include items such as convention and conference centers, arenas and stadiums, sports facilities, performance halls, museums, parks, greenways, trails, art public, visitor centers and orientation signs.

By funding capital projects, tourist boards increase accommodation demand, local spending, and visitor satisfaction, bringing more money to a county.

Legislation allowing tourism bureaus to spend up to one-third of their total revenue on tourism-related expenses comes from North Carolina House Bill 96, which was passed in 2011. According to the legislation, tourism-related expenses are those designed to increase the use of accommodation. , meetings or conventions in the county or to attract tourists or business travelers to the county. The term includes capital expenditure related to tourism.

The JCTDA began developing the app for capital projects in 2020 with research into best practices in other destinations. The application was reviewed by the JCTDA’s Product and Experience Development Committee, Visitor Experience Committee, Magellan Strategy Group, and county legal and finance teams.

“One of our goals is to fund projects that have a useful life of 10 years or more, or new constructions, additions or renovations with a total cost of at least $25,000. Or a major maintenance or rehabilitation project costing over $25,000,” Breedlove said.

This year, the JCTDA recommends a funding cycle because the process begins in February. However, in future years, he recommends two full funding rounds.

The JCTDA has established a Tourism Capital Projects Fund Committee comprised of representatives from all tourism industries, including accommodation, food service, chamber of commerce, arts and culture, community, chairman of the board of administration of the JCTDA and a county commissioner. This committee will review the applications before going to the full JCTDA Board of Directors, which will review the applications before deciding which applications to forward to the county commission for approval.

Applications will be scored according to a rubric so applicants know which components are most important. Entries may receive up to 20 points for tourism promotion impact and overnight stays, 15 points for scale and ability to attract visitors, 10 points for destination benefits and up to five points each for visitor experience enhancement, program components, research quality, overall marketing approach, appropriate target market, evidence of partnership, and organizational structure and management.

According to the tentative schedule for the 2022 application, the JCTDA will hold a pre-submission conference on June 1, applications will be due on August 1 for consideration by the TCPF committee, they will then be presented to the full JCTDA board of directors on August 18. August, before the county commission in a working session on September 13, before the county commission in regular session on September 22, and a financing agreement will be signed on October 20.

“Every funding agreement we put in place will be customized based on the applicant, when we release funds, how often, what steps are required before we release funds,” Breedlove said. “We will rely on Ms. Fox to make these decisions. In doing so, we ensure the highest and best use of taxpayer dollars and the process provides clarity, efficiency and accountability.

The JCDTA has allocated $500,000 to the capital project fund for this fiscal year. It is not necessary to use all this money, and several requests can be considered at once. Allocations for the future year will depend on anticipated occupancy tax revenues. Applications will be available on JacksonCountyTDA.com in the coming month.

“We would like to see this program continue to grow,” Breedlove said. “We’ll be looking at these projects to make sure they’re a really good fit, not just that we’re exhausting that money. So if there’s money left over from this fiscal year, we’ll carry it over to the next fiscal year. »

Commissioner Gayle Woody asked if the county could apply for these funds to help with projects like a greenway. According to Breedlove, the county could apply for funds; the appropriate county department would be the applicant for these projects.

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