Twenty-one advertising and promotion commissions and convention and visitor bureaus in Arkansas received more than $3.5 million in grants supported by funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Pine Bluff is among recipients, according to a recent announcement by the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. The city's Advertising and Promotion Commission received almost $17,000 from the grant.
Sheri Storie, director of the Pine Bluff commission, said the money will be used to reimburse her office for covid-related equipment purchased for the Pine Bluff Convention Center. She said she was unsure if such costs would be reimbursed.
"We were happy to get it," she said.
The Arkansas CARES Act Steering Committee in November approved the grants by using the remaining portion of the funds set aside for municipalities and counties through the program administered by the Department of Finance and Administration, according to the news release.
Grant recipients and amounts received are:
• Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission, $16,949.61.
• City of Batesville Advertising and Promotion Commission, $3,118.80.
• Benton Advertising and Promotion Commission, $1,339.30.
• Bentonville Advertising and Promotion Commission, $97,947.87.
• City of Brinkley Advertising & Promotion, $13,424.57.
• Conway Advertising and Promotion Commission, $12,677.82.
• El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission, $17,596.09.
• City of Eureka Springs, $73,707.45.
• Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission, $146,683.52.
• City of Fort Smith/Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion, $53,612.90.
• City of Greenwood Advertising and Promotion Commission, $2,000.00.
• Harrison Convention and Visitors Bureau, $23,756.18.
• Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission/Hot Springs Convention Center, $736,824.92.
• Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission (Little Rock Convention and Visitor Bureau), $1,197,155.86.
• Multi-Purpose Civic Center Facilities Board for Pulaski County (Simmons Bank Arena), $938,482.27.
• North Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission, $18,329.78.
• Ozark Area Chamber of Commerce, $370.08.
• Rogers Advertising and Promotion Commission, $100,434.42.
• City of Texarkana Advertising and Promotion Commission, $16,244.66.
• Van Buren Advertising and Promotion Commission, $41,459.69.
• West Memphis Advertising and Promotion Commission, $7,064.08.
"The people and agencies that promote our state parks and other tourist attractions to the rest of the world are essential to a robust state economy," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in the news release.
"Their campaigns to spread the word about our museums, bike trails, hunting and fishing, and all the other family friendly opportunities in Arkansas entice tourists by the tens of thousands, which supports jobs and brings in millions of dollars to support our state. The CARES Act funds are a bridge to normalcy after the harm to our tourism industry from covid-19," Hutchinson said.
The grant provided reimbursement to advertising and promotion commissions and convention and visitor bureaus and other quasi-governmental entities for eligible expenditures related to the public health emergency incurred between March 1 and Nov. 15, 2020.
"Our A&Ps and CVBs have been among those hardest hit by this pandemic," said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. "These entities are central to the success of our tourism industry, which is the second-largest sector of our economy in Arkansas. I want to thank Gov. Hutchinson for his leadership in finding a way to get this crucial support to these organizations."
"We have worked diligently as a department to find ways to support these partners," said Travis Napper, director of Arkansas Tourism.
"These grants will go a long way to benefit tourism in Arkansas, and although 2020 has presented significant setbacks, we're on the right track to come back stronger than before."