Local area Destination Marketing Organization awarded a grant by Governor Evers and State of Wisconsin

ABOVE: Governor Evers of Wisconsin

As a part of the governor's more than $140 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) fund investment in Wisconsin's tourism and entertainment industries the Local Destination Marketing Organization, the Stockholm Area Merchants Association was awarded a significant grant to help continue the strong growth in tourism the Wisconsin part of the Lake Pepin Area has seen pre covid.

The Stockholm Area Merchants Association started humbly as group of merchants in Stockholm that wished to cooperatively market the village and has grown to an area wide Destination Marketing Organization that has members all along the “West Coast of Wisconsin”, all striving to build a stronger economy for all in the area. The Lake Pepin based DMO was the smallest size organization to be awarded these major investments. The funds, although small by large area budgets is equivalent to approx. a third of the DMO’s annual budget.

The grant writing and submission was undertaken by SAMA President Char Harris Scherer and volunteers from the organization and the membership is thrilled at the results and believe it sets a precedent for the organization and the area.

“Wisconsin's tourism industry was one of the first and hardest hit industries of the COVID-19 pandemic” stated Governor Evers, “but our local folks at DMOs statewide have been innovative, dedicated, and resilient, and it's because of them that this industry is bouncing back and better, I am glad to be using these funds to support their good work, along with our more than $200 million investment in Wisconsin's tourism industry. From the largest convention and visitor bureaus in Milwaukee and Wisconsin Dells to the smallest chambers of commerce in Pepin and Cassville, the $15 million investment awarded today will help continue to fuel our local recovery efforts and ensure those rebounds are felt statewide.”

“Together with our local Destination Marketing Organizations, we are at a critical moment in the tourism recovery, and these funds will jumpstart Wisconsin’s tourism recovery that will uplift local economies and hospitality workers,” said Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary-designee Anne Sayers. “Wisconsin's $17.3 billion tourism industry is not just big fun, it’s also big business.” Funded by the ARPA and administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) with guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, the Destination Marketing Organization Grant Program was designed to assist tourism, convention and events organizations that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, 120 organizations received grants ranging from $2,000 to $1 million based on expenses incurred by eligible tourism-promotion and tourism development organizations.

“Destination Marketing Organizations are at the heart of the tourism industry, and by supporting them, we’re able to help local communities bring more visitors to our beautiful state,” said DOA Secretary Joel Brennan.

The Lake Pepin area saw the largest percentage gains in tourism spending in the state from 2017 through 2019, the last year that statistics are currently available. The leadership of the Stockholm Area Merchants Association Destination Marketing Organization see great possibilities in creating more growth for the entire area with the help of this grant.