Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett will be coming to Waupaca County on Thursday, Nov. 15, to present us with a check for $20,000.
The ceremony will take place at the Best Western Grand Seasons Hotel in Waupaca.
In total, Waupaca County has received $54,000 in grant funding from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism over this two-year period.
That money was matched by $40,000 in cash contributions from the eight partnering communities (with over 75 percent of these funds coming out of the room taxes collected when tourists stay in our hotels and motels).
Finally, the WCEDC and Waupaca County UW-Extension contributed in-kind services worth $13,000, for a total project investment of $107,000.
This project is good example of how collaboration can leverage tax dollars.
The state has been encouraging local governments to work together for the past decade by providing grant incentives (for tourism projects, comprehensive planning projects, etc.).
Year one of this project brought all eight community partners together, in order to create one brand and one strategic marketing plan for the entire county.
Year two will launch that brand and marketing plan by using the latest technologies available.
Every business related to the County’s tourism industry will be listed on a state-of-the-art, searchable Google map.
We will drive traffic to the Google map via facebook, twitter, on-line ads, our new tourism website, and a cable TV campaign that will broadcast approximately one thousand 30 second spots and reach over 1.2 million homes (in markets like Milwaukee).
We will have good measurement and feedback systems in place to figure out how we are doing and what we need to adjust.
Basically, what we have done is set up the infrastructure and identified the tools necessary to grow our third largest industry: tourism.
The beneficiaries of that growth will be our commercial sector (as 84 percent of tourism dollars are spent in retail stores, gas stations, lodging facilities, and food & beverage businesses).
The launch date for year two of our tourism marketing project is April 1, 2013.
We will be getting all the pieces in place over the next few months.
My experience and intuition as an economic/community development professional tells me we are on the right track.
We have the right team in place.
We just need to execute the plan, produce results, and figure out a way to sustain the momentum.
Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)
Waupaca County and the city of Clintonville have partnered together to help a new business expand in Clintonville.
Arty’s LLC began bottling cocktails (Brandy Old Fashioned and Whiskey Old Fashioned) in April 2012.
The company began selling products in July of this year.
During the first three months of production, they had already exceeded their sales forecast for the entire year.
Their current production facility is a former restaurant in the Village of Embarrass.
To say they are bursting at the seams would be an understatement.
The owner of Arty’s contacted the city administrator, who then contacted me.
The first thing we did was propose existing locations in Clintonville that would alleviate their pressing problem of being able to quickly expand production.
We located a facility on Sixth Street behind the new Kwik Trip, and the owners of Arty’s are currently renting and remodeling that facility to meet their needs.
The next issue we worked on was the funding necessary for purchasing new equipment.
The company’s investors were able to infuse another $100,000 into the business, but they still needed an additional $50,000 to purchase all the equipment necessary, and fund some working capital (for increasing production).
The city and county were able to split that amount, with $20,000 coming from the City’s RLF, and $30,000 borrowed from the County RLF.
According to federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) rules, which govern the local, community-based RLF programs, that loan amount requires the business to create 2.5 full-time jobs over the next three years.
The company projects to create approximately 30 jobs during that timeframe.
It appears that Arty’s has a great future.
The industry growth projection for micro cocktail bottlers is substantial.
I look forward to helping them expand again in Clintonville.
Dave Thiel is the executive director of the Waupaca County Economic Development Corp.