Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A 2035 Trace!

I’ve traced a reminder on my 2035 Google calendar!

Yup, that’s a quarter of a century away, a few days after my daughter will have turned my current age and a few days before my youngest grandson will be on the “backside of 30,” With any luck I’ll be a week from my 87th birthday then and hopefully as spry as my Mom is at 82 today.

But I’ve traced my calendar for 8 am the morning of Thursday, July 1st that year out of curiosity to check back and see if the DCVB governing board, my employer until I retired back in 2009, will launch a tourism match grants program in 2035, the first year that funds eligible for that purpose will be available!

Community/Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO’s) are typically not grant agencies but in North Carolina, if the DMO receives 100% of the special tourism development tax, state policy permits up to 1/3rd to be use for tourism-related projects, other than community marketing, which is the stipulated use for no less than 2/3rds of the funds.

But not in Durham for two reasons:Permissable Use of Funding

  • Because only 33%, not 100% of Durham’s special tourism tax is used for the purposes for which the tax was pioneered in 1982, those funds that do make their way to DCVB are restricted to “only” marketing Durham. Marketing activities are specifically defined in the legislation and do not include grants.

  • Because to accommodate City and County officials and some Downtown interests, DCVB asked the General Assembly to waive the requirement to conform use of the special tourism development tax under state policy so that up to $1.4 million a year could be diverted to pay for the Durham Performing Arts Center. So the General Assembly further hardwired DCVB’s portion to only be used for marketing until 2035 when the theater is paid for and those funds revert to DCVB for their primary purpose (click on the image above to see detail.)

Of course, when the theater is paid for and those funds go to DCVB, there is no guarantee they will go to tourism matching grants. The Tourism Development Authority will have the discretion to use them to bring Durham marketing up to par other communities and/or for other tourism-related purposes (which could be tourism matching grants) including capital projects.

But if some of the funds are devoted to grants, DCVB is all set to go. Several years ago, Durham’s destination marketing organization took a tourism matching grants process developed by another community and updated it to best practice standards including both day-trip and overnight visitors.

The grants-centered “Durham Tourism-Project Development Fund” was adopted by DCVB’s Tourism Development Authority to be shelved but kept up-to-date in anticipation of the day eligible funds come to the Bureau in 2035.

In the meantime, currently 50% of the tourism development tax is retained in the City and County general funds with more than 30% of that portion technically eligible to be used for tourism matching grants. It isn’t identified as such but it may be that’s what is currently used by those local governments for grants to festivals and/or to close gaps for tourism-related facilities like the Convention Center, Museum of Life & Science, Durham Bulls Athletic Park and DPAC.

I hope so anyway.

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