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Tourism Grants

MARION, IA (CBS2/FOX28) One corridor city is giving out big bucks to organization that can bring people to town. Marion is awarding more than $130,000 to local groups to help them hold events that bring tourists to any one of the citys hotels and motels.

The grant money comes from the taxes Marion collects from local hotels and motels, meaning that local people can also take advantage of some of the events that result essentially for free.

"The city of Marion collects a 7-percent tax on overnight on all the hotel and motel within the city," said Marions Assistant to the City Manager Amanda Kaufman.

That income is then awarded through grants to local organizations like Uptown Marion or the Marion Rotary Marathon for Shoes.

In the past, groups have gotten anywhere from $2,000 to $47,000. That kind of money can go along way for non-profits trying to put on an event.

"The way we have money come in and the way we have to market it, it's a way for us to bridge a gap between income and needed expenses, said Marion Rotary Marathon for Shoes Race Director Cody Crawford.

"We don't have dollars often times to promote the things that we do in a big way to audiences outside of the community, said Uptown Marion Director Nick Glew.

Cody says the marathon got around $6,000 last year.

"A lot of what we use the hotel/motel money for is the marketing end of it. It's to bring people into the city, said Crawford.

That means people who stay in one of Marions hotels partially fund the very advertising that brings them back to town.

For the marathon, it seems to work.

Cody says last year, it brought in 175 hotel stays, from 20 states and three countries. Nick says Uptown Marion also tries to catch people in hotels but also targets nearby rest stops.

"People that we're going to be drawing in to enjoy our community to stay overnight in hotels to kind of keep that cycle going again, said Glew.

A cycle that not only means more revenue, but a better place to live.

"It's just a very exciting time to be around here, said Crawford.

The application deadline is noon on June 24th and the grants will be awarded at the July 10th City Council Meeting.
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