Program will generate more than $1 million in marketing initiatives, support over 400 jobs, and impact more than 189 statewide tourism businesses and entities
RICHMOND, VA — At the VA-1 Governor’s Tourism Summit, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced yesterday that more than $300,000 in matching grant funds will be awarded to 64 small business partnerships as part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Microbusiness Marketing Leverage Program (MMLP.)
The program is designed to leverage local marketing dollars with matching state funds to increase visitation and traveler spending in the off-season. This funding cycle, local partners will commit more than $782,000 in private sector funds to match the VTC funding, providing more than $1 million in new marketing activity focused on small businesses and off-season visitation. Funding will be awarded to 64 marketing programs, ultimately impacting 189 combined partners, and supporting over 400 jobs.
“Tourism marketing programs that drive tourism during the off-season is part of our robust strategy to grow the economy in Virginia. These marketing programs are designed to bring in year-round overnight visitation which will support small businesses and jobs in localities across Virginia. In 2021, the tourism industry supported over 185,000 jobs in Virginia and travelers spent over $69M per day in Virginia, and we are on a growth trajectory,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.
The VTC Microbusiness Marketing Leverage Program is designed to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, to stimulate new tourism marketing through partnerships, and to extend the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand to drive off-season visitation. Using the hub and spoke tourism model, three Virginia entities partner financially to apply for funding. Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other tourism-related businesses.
The VTC Microbusiness Marketing Program was created in 2022 to provide marketing funding to target off-season visitation to tourism-oriented small businesses with less than 20 full-time employees. Designed to drive overnight visitation during fall, winter, and early spring, the program provided up to $5,000 in matching dollars for marketing initiatives.
“From fall foliage tours and holiday festivals to winter sports and spring break trips, these programs will help build Virginia’s year-round tourism economy by targeting out-of-state visitors to visit Virginia for long weekends, outdoor recreation, special events, and package tours from September to May,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick.
“February, March, and April are slower months for River Rock Outfitters. Winter weather reduces our number of shoppers, and our fair-weather customers are not actively pursuing outdoor adventures. This campaign will provide fun content to market River Rock Outfitter and the gear and services we provide while promoting the Fredericksburg-region as a go-to spot for outdoor activities,” said Owner of River Rock Outfitter April Peterson.
“This is a much-needed grant for our town and businesses. Most of our businesses are small businesses with very little to no marketing funds available. This grant will give us additional funds to help our fellow business owners and to promote our cold weather fun! We hope it will allow visitors to see St. Paul as a year round weekend destination!” said Andrea Hicks of St. Paul Tomorrow VTC will have additional Marketing Program grant and sponsorship rounds opening throughout 2023. Organizations and businesses that are interested in applying may visit vatc.org for more information.
A full list of funding recipients for the VTC Microbusiness Marketing Leverage Program can be found here.