BTAC awards 2015 grant money

By Steve Guntli

The Blaine Tourism Advisory Committee (BTAC) has finalized this year’s grant funding for local tourist- and event-focused groups and organizations. Successful applicants can expect to see contracts in the mail sometime this week.

The committee is awarding $67,000 for 2015, which will mostly be used for events and programs that attract tourists to the city.

“BTAC is interested in funding projects that increase visitors to Blaine and result in more overnight stays in the city,” said BTAC chair Steve Lawrenson. Funding for the grants is generated by a tax that is applied to overnight stays at local lodgings such as the Semiahmoo Resort and motels in the city.

The committee has been evaluating nine grant requests totaling $96,500 that it received prior to an August 2014 deadline.

The committee has awarded grants to the following events and organizations:

Peace Arch Park International Sculpture Exhibition: $8,000

Bellingham Whatcom Tourism: $2,000 for tourism and marketing

Blaine Old Fashioned Fourth of July: $10,000

Drayton Harbor Music Festival: $7,500

Drayton Harbor Days: $1,500

Plover Ferry: $28,000

International Art Festival: $4,000

Wings Over Water Northwest Festival: $4,000

Springfest Art Tour and the Holiday Art Market: $2,000

The city received $137,000 from the hotel/motel tax in 2014, and has budgeted for $140,400 for 2015.

In addition to the grants, $7,000 will go toward funding for marketing and advertising and $66,000 toward operation costs for the Visitor’s Information Center and salary for community development coordinator Debbie Harger.

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