Monday, March 20, 2017

My Home Town's Tourist Grants

Downtown Hillsborough is a mecca for shoppers, browsers, diners and people watchers.

TOURISM TOUR: Grants program helps keep Hillsborough vibrant

HILLSBOROUGH -- A town is not just buildings and people. Towns must have character and charm, identity and vibe, past and future.
In today’s society where people are distracted with too many amenities at home and the demand to remain connected is growing, fostering town interest and activities are critical to growth and town character.
For Shannan Campbell, the economic development planner for the Town of Hillsborough, fostering and assisting with tourism is a role she appreciates and a role necessary for the town.
“Back in the 1990s the town levied a 1 percent tax on prepared food and beverages, meaning that 1 percent of food prepared and beverages sold in the town go into a tourism fund, administered by the tourism board,” says Campbell of a now open-period for grant applications from the tourism board. Through April 21,, interested parties and groups can petition the Tourism Board for funds to use to promote tourism or interest in the town.
“Last year we gave around $35,000 in tourism grants to various organizations and interested groups that we found to benefit and draw tourism to the Town of Hillsborough,” says Campbell.
The board is comprised of nine members: a representative from the Board of Commissioners, at-large representatives, a representative from the Chamber of Commerce, restaurant/bar owners in town and a representative from the Alliance of Historical Hillsborough.
“The Tourism Board basically guides decisions that will hopefully reinvest in the town,” says Campbell.
Campbell is responsible for administering the grant program and maintaining records as well as promoting tourism development and economic development in the town.
“If a business wants to start in Hillsborough, then I serve as a liaison to help them navigate the process and move things forward. I serve as a first point of contact, even if that is just assisting to identity space for a particular business,” she says.
Her role in the tourism board and tourism’s importance to the town gives Campbell great satisfaction.
“Through our grant process we have been able to further tourism and interest in Hillsborough. In 2016, we approved grants to the radio station WHUP for remote recording and broadcasting equipment; Orange Community Players group to further the role of arts in our town; the Sundays on the Lawn late summer concert series; and we supported the first of what we hope are many more Historic Hillsborough Half-Marathons, launching this past October. And we provided support for Eno Publishing in a book project involving the Burwell School in Hillsborough,” says Campbell.
“Hillsborough is an emerging town. We have architecture and historical vibe and the emerging arts and culture scene compliments our food and beverage scene, and this is expanding with the growing popularity of River Walk and the outdoor recreation found in Hillsborough,” Campbell says.
“By giving grants and supporting projects that we feel support and grow tourism, we are giving dollars back to projects that will in turn give back to Hillsborough. We do require 20 percent in matching funds from the requesting group, to be sure they have an investment in the project, themselves,” she says, adding, “Hillsborough is a really unique town and by giving these grants we are essentially reinvesting in projects that we think support the healthy growth of our town.”
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