The Jackson County Area Tourism Association (JCATA) recently awarded more than $5,000 to local businesses and organizations for their promotional efforts.
The mini-grants were one of the highlights at the group’s annual meeting and dinner earlier this month at Kalmes Restaurant in Bellevue. JCATA also announced several other positive developments, including a visit to the county next month by a crew from Midwest Living magazine and the area’s inclusion in a state marketing program called Soul of Iowa 2.0. State Sen. Carrie Koelker gave the evening’s keynote address.
The 2023 mini-grant recipients presented new ways to attract visitors to Jackson County and spur the local economy, said Tom Devine, JCATA director.
“This is the ninth year that we’ve awarded the JCATA mini-grants for ideas and projects that promote Jackson County and entice tourists to visit our beautiful part of the Midwest,” Devine said, adding that during the program’s existence, the association has awarded more than $42,500, including $5,423.95 this year.
“With the outdoors being one of the favorite places for people to spend time with family, Jackson County’s abundant outdoor adventures and lucrative attractions are being promoted, and the grant program will help our businesses and attractions make visitors aware of the variety of activities and attractions here,” he said.
Grant recipients for this year include:
n Ski Bellevue, $750 for a new surface on their pontoon dock
n Bellevue Arts Council/BETA and River Ridge Brewery, $1,125 for Live Music at the Annual Fishtival Celebration
n Maquoketa Hometown Pride, $555 for flyers to promote the Summer Concert Series and Maqtoberfest,
n Jackson County Fair, $750 for a tote bag promotion
n Iowa Grape Vines Winery, $743 for advertising expansion and open house
n Island City Harbor in Sabula in conjunction with JCATA, $1,500 for brochures and signs for the new Jackson County/State of Iowa Welcome Center in Sabula
The 2024 Mini-Grant application will be available online at jacksoncountyiowa.com on March 1. A $60 annual membership fee in the JCATA is not required for application, but extra points are given to applicants who are active in the organization.
Devine also announced that the Fleishman-Hillard group will be in Jackson County for a day and a half in June to visit Offshore Resort in Bellevue, Island City Harbor in Sabula, Codfish Hollow Barnstormers in Maquoketa, and Maquoketa Caves State Park. The crew will take drone pictures and gather other information to use in Soul of Iowa 2.0, the sequel of a campaign launched by the Iowa Economic Development Authority last year, which was called Soul of Iowa.
The campaign will feature 32 communities in a combination of ways including drone flythroughs, shorter drone flights, and photography that can be used at no cost for a variety of marketing.
Also in mid-June, the annual Midwest Living Road Rally will stop by Jackson County. A team will take pictures and interview people across Iowa. The first day, the team will go from Loess Hills in the western part of the state to Winterset; then from Des Moines to the Amana Colonies the second day; and Iowa City to the Maquoketa Caves and on to Dubuque the third day.
“We’ve been selected to be one of the showcases,” Devine said. “This will be in 2024 in their Midwest Living publication and also used by their influencers before that.”
In her keynote address, Koelker hailed all the things happening in tourism in Jackson County and beyond.
“Tourism is economic development. Tourism is quality of life,” she said.
In Jackson County, 234 jobs are supported by the travel and tourism industry, which generates $3.18 million in local revenue.
“Tourism is a cash cow. It’s a revenue generator for our state. It puts millions of dollars into our state treasury each year,” she noted.
While Covid hit tourism hard, it did spur people to do more outdoor activities, such as camping and kayaking, for which Iowa offers many opportunities.
She encouraged continued teamwork to promote the state down to the regional and city level, noting that tourism is a bi-partisan effort.
“It takes leaders, volunteers and partnerships,” she said.
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