Grants approved for tourney and arts event

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners approved $6,000 in Innovative Grant Program funding for area sports and art events.

Mark Lewis, chief executive officer and president of the Greater Parkersburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Cindy Sheppard of the bureau presented the project applications on Thursday.

“These projects are the type the fund was designed for, to bring people into the area and fill the hotel rooms,” Lewis said.

The Innovative Grant fund is made up of 8.5 percent of the county hotel and motel occupancy taxes. It was created when the county raised the hotel occupancy tax in 2008 from 3 to 6 percent.

The grants are offered on a competitive basis. To qualify for the funds, the event or project must draw visitors to the area to increase hotel stays.

As part of the stipulations for the grant, event organizers are asked to provide documentation of increased numbers of visitors to the area as the result of their event.

A West Virginia Junior State Wrestling Tournament will receive $5,000.

“This is the ninth year for the event, they used 500 room nights during their previously tournament that brought about 900 people in from out of the area and another 200 locally. We feel it is a worthwhile event to continue funding,” Sheppard said.

The event is March 6-8 at Parkersburg High School.

The other project is a Parkersburg Art Center’s Art Educators Association meeting Oct. 17-19.

“This event will draw in art educators from all over the state, they are expecting between 85-100 to attend,” Sheppard said.

“This is a good use of the grant funding. These funds are to be used to create an event within the event for attendees. The bureau is working with them to also provide packets of information on local attractions,” Lewis said.

Lewis said, on the commission’s suggestion, bureau officials are meeting with fund recipients to discuss current and future plans.

“We are working with them to see how their events and projects can be enhanced and grow and how to help get the information out,” Lewis said.