CHARLES TOWN – The Conventions and Visitors Bureau last week gave sizable grants to three towns in Jefferson County to help fund efforts to bring increased tourism to the area.
The three $2,500 grants went to Charles Town, Shepherdstown and Harpers Ferry, each of whom has partnered with the CVB.
“The funds are for what we think are signature events,” said Annette Gavin, CEO of the CVB. “Most of the marketing dollars we spend with the CVB involve the state matching funds program. Unfortunately, what the towns do can’t be reimbursed through the state. So our intention is to help boost the local events.”
Mayor Peggy Smith of Charles Town said the grant will provide important funding for the Heritage Festival, effectively increasing its budget by 20 to 25 percent.
“Our Heritage Festival, along with the car show, is our biggest event for tourism,” Smith said. “The grant is a big help. We usually budget between $10,000 and $13,000.”
Smith said she expects that this year’s event, along with a developing plan to rebrand the city, will help to increase the flow of tourists dollars.
“The Heritage Festival is picking up each year, and I think it is going to be very successful next year,” she said. “We’re doing this all to get tourists here.”
Harpers Ferry plans to give its funds to the town’s merchants association, which organizes most town events, Gavin said. Shepherdstown plans to give its funds to its visitors center, which fulfills a similar role in that municipality.
“The only caveat we have put on it is that it be used to promote tourism and bring people in from outside of the county,” Gavin said.
She said the $7,500 in funding for tourism promotion in the partner municipalities, along with the community participation grants they gave out earlier in the year, show that the CVB is using county and state funds wisely.
“We look at these funds as part of the budget that the County Commission gave us – the $20,000 for community partnership,” she said. “This is above and beyond that, so we have exceeded our goal and the County Commission’s expectation to be good stewards of that money.”