Grant resources shared with local tourism stakeholders

Published 3:25 am Saturday, December 17, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

RESERVE — Experts from the Louisiana Office of Tourism presented information on how local attractions can take advantage of available grant funding during Louisiana’s River Parishes Tourist Commission’s final quarterly meeting of 2022.

“We want to get this money out because what we are tasked to do is let the world know what Louisiana has to offer,” said Lindsey Lightfoot Schmitt, manager of the Louisiana Attractions Support Grant.

Representatives from several businesses across St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes were in attendance at the River Parishes Community College Reserve campus as Schmitt shared the details of LASG. Funding for this grant is specific to museums, historic houses and other brick-and-mortar cultural attractions, according to Schmitt, and it cannot be used for one-off events.

The LASG is a reimbursement grant with a maximum amount of $10,000. Applicants can earn $2,000 up front for placing the Louisiana Office of Tourism logo on the attraction’s website.  Eligible expenses include media advertising and the production of those ads, licensing or artist fees, printing of brochures and other promotional expenses, and exhibit expenses including but not limited to lighting and signage.

The grant application for LASG Phase II will be posted in January and will be first come- first served. Funding must be used no later than June 30, 2023, and those who received a Phase I grant will not be eligible.

Lynne Coxwell of the Louisiana Office of Tourism said attractions that do not qualify for LASG may be eligible for the Festivals and Events Recovery Grant. This grant can be applied for once per fiscal year (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023), within 90 days of an event that attracts visitors from beyond 50 miles away and creates a positive impression of Louisiana as a tourist attraction.

According to Coxwell, applicants can receive up to $15,000 for reimbursement of 75% of the costs for marketing the fair or festival. A maximum of $5,000 can be awarded for Louisiana Office of Tourism logo placement and social media hashtags, bringing the maximum grant amount to $20,000.

The River Parishes Tourist Commission’s quarterly meeting also featured a $2 million federal grant success story presented by Zachary Holifield, director of sales and leisure business development for Coastal Mississippi.

“The most important thing I can tell you about grants is that it’s storytelling at its finest,” Holifield said. “We try not to get too technical with our terminology and make sure it is understandable for everyone. The grant-making agency needs to understand what you are talking about.”

Holifield encouraged grant applicants to explain how funding for their attraction or event would enhance the local economy.

“Really focus on your narrative, and the budget needs to match,” he said. “You need to tell the same story through your budget as well as through your strategic plan.”

He also spoke about consulting the right experts to understand how to communicate with the grant-supplying organization prior to submitting an application.

Arianna Mace, CEO of grant writing organization Propel Consulting, shared other “top of the stack” tips and tricks for grant applications. These included researching the granting organization’s mission ahead of time. Making a call to inquire about the organization and grant opportunities is another way to stand out from other applicants, according to Mace.

Other tips including reaching out to others in the area who have received the particular grant, telling a compelling story about what sets your attraction apart, and completing 100% of the grant application, contributing details even in areas that are marked as optional.

Another success story was shared from Sondra Corbitt, executive director of Explore Houma. Through the Louisiana Tourism Revival Fund, Houma received $437,583.67 to be used for marketing, sponsorship, product development and hosting events.

Corbitt stressed the importance of saving invoices to maintain compliance with the granting organization.