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For the first time, Visit Canton is offering Destination Enhancement Grants in support of projects that target the development of quality amenities, attractions and facilities that enhance the visitor experience to increase the likelihood of visitation from outside the area.
Grant requests up to $50,000 will be considered, and applications opened today and will be accepted through Oct. 31.
The new addition is one of three different grant programs that support various initiatives with one common goal: to benefit the Stark County region by generating economic impact through visitor spending. Organizations ― including but not limited to local governments, for-profit enterprises and nonprofit organizations ― are eligible to apply for funding from all three programs: Destination Enhancement Grants, Event Support Grants and Cultural Tourism Grants.
“Each program is important in different ways,” explained Allison Gromofsky, promotions & grants manager at Visit Canton. “Destination Enhancement Grants are key to be sure we continue to elevate and improve the in-destination experience as more and more people are visiting the area and sharing their experiences with others.”
For several years, Visit Canton has offered Event Support Grants to generate increased visitation and economic impact for the region through events such as conferences, reunions, meetings, sporting events, tournaments and festivals. This program awards grants based on the event's potential economic impact, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
“Event Support Grants are impactful because we have a destination that appeals to large-scale events that command significant local support,” said Gromofsky. “They provide event partners with the necessary resources to fulfill those demands, keeping our destination competitive in attracting major events.”
In 2017, Visit Canton’s grantmaking capability grew significantly after entering into a cooperative agreement with ArtsinStark and Stark County commissioners to provide additional funds for its Cultural Tourism Grants program. The program supports arts and culture events and marketing initiatives encompassing visual arts, museums, performing arts, theaters, attractions or authentic historical and cultural places.
These grants expand the marketing outreach for events and organizations, many being nonprofits, that offer attractive experiences but have limited means to advertise and promote those experiences to new audiences. This program awards up to $20,000 per project, and applications are open from Nov. 1 – 31.
Visit Canton’s mission is to attract and engage visitors, serve and educate regional tourism partners and generate economic development through travel and tourism development. Tourism contributes to every aspect of our community — especially the quality of life, job market and local tax base.
In 2021 alone, travel and tourism generated $1.15 billion of direct business sales in Stark County, and tourism spending generated $206.9 million in the county’s household incomes. These grant programs foster strategic vision, increase industry and community collaboration, and work to maximize the economic return of local projects.