Apply for special funding

Local nonprofits should take advantage of a special opportunity to fund projects that attract people to our area.

Continuing an annual tradition, the Belmont County Tourism is again offering its Grant Assistance Program. The program is designed to assist nonprofit organizations from Belmont County with events and attractions that enhance tourism in the area.

Tourism is an important industry for our region. Not only does it generate tax dollars on visitors’ lodging, but it also usually leads to an increase in sales tax proceeds, since we do have large retail outlets in Belmont County. Last year, the tourism board awarded grant funds to 33 recipients.

“Many of the recipients would not be able to continue with their community event or attraction if it wasn’t for this grant,” said Barb Ballint, executive director of the tourism office.

In the past, these grants have been awarded to a wide variety of organizations, including the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, other area museums, fairs, festivals and many more.

Each nonprofit must qualify to receive the grant. That means the event or attraction must generate tourism into the county.

Any nonprofit may apply for the grant. Applications have been mailed to previous applicants, but they are also available in the tourism office, located at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville.

“We are accepting applications until Feb. 14,” said Ballint.

The board reviews all the applications. The grants are then awarded to the qualifying recipients by March 31.

The tourism council is funded through a 3-percent lodging tax, so the money to provide the grants is not drawn from the county’s regular coffers. We urge area nonprofits to take advantage of this source of additional funding to launch or continue important projects.

For questions about the grant, call the tourism office at 740-695-4359.