U.S. Dept. of Commerce Aims to Boost Tourism Across Nation with American Rescue Plan Funds

Image of the Economic Development Administration logo.

September marked a serious push by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to boost tourism around the country. States scattered across the country, from Alaska to New Orleans, received funding provided by the American Rescue Plan to revitalize their tourism and travel sector, a critical economic driver.

However, the American Rescue Plan also provides states with funding to support small business growth, develop jobs, improve healthcare facilities and improve water systems, among other initiatives.

Alaska to Receive New Tourism Center

In Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, the EDA looks to help improve the area’s visitor infrastructure with a $6.7 million grant that will be used to construct a new visitor center. It will also provide additional retail space, allowing local merchants to connect with visitors in one central location. In addition, the grant money will be matched with $1.7 million of local funds to either create or retain 180 jobs.

“President Biden recognizes the vital contribution the travel and tourism industry makes to the American economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This project will create new opportunities for businesses in Matanuska-Susitna Borough to tap into Alaska’s important tourism economy, expanding the potential for economic growth and resilience.”

Read More: Why You Should Plan Your Next Event in Alaska

New Visitor Center for Marine and Ocean Science Slated for Mendocino, California

Grant money totaling $825,230 was awarded the EDA to support the design work and a feasibility study for the Noyo Center for Marine Science’s Ocean Science Center, slated for construction in Fort Bragg, California. The grant is intended to boost tourism in Mendocino County and will be matched with $207,891 in local funding.

“Mendocino County is home to miles of stunning coastline and other natural wonders that draw visitors from far and wide,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said. “This grant will help further boost travel and tourism, supporting a state-of-the-art Ocean Science Center to provide hands-on education for visitors, advance innovative research in marine science and spur new opportunities to support the region’s economy.”

Read More: Cannabis Tourism Industry Developing More Appeal

EDA Funds Training Tribal Communities in New Mexico and Establish Heritage Center

The EDA announced $4.4 million in grant dollars has been awarded to tribal communities in New Mexico to support the development of utility infrastructure, roadway development and building renovations needed to establish the Taos Pueblo Heritage Center. Taos Pueblo Central Management System (CMS) will receive a $2.4 million grant, with the intention of creating tribal workforce opportunities and boost tourism in the region.

The additional $2 million in grant funding will go to the Picuris Pueblo Indian Tribe in Penasco to build the Picuris Pueblo Vocational Training Complex to spur job growth and produce a skilled workforce.

“Building economic opportunity for New Mexico nations, tribes and pueblos benefits everyone,” New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “We have already pledged state support for the Taos Pueblo Heritage Center, which will create jobs and foster continued economic activity. I am grateful to see federal support for this important project and for job training at Picuris Pueblo.”

Southeast Ohio’s Great Outdoors Receives Financial Boost

Burr Oak State Park in Southeast Ohio will receive $2.4 million in upgrades to boost tourism in the state. The upgrades include new campsite amenities, trail segments and docks at the marina to elevate the visitor experience. In addition, the grant will be partially matched with $604,625 in local funds to create or retain roughly 125 jobs.

“Ohioans depend on access to parks for outdoor recreation, community events, and local jobs,” Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said. “This funding from the American Rescue Plan will support the local economy, create jobs and promote local tourism at Burr Oak State Park.”

Recreational Path in New Hampshire Slated for Installation to Boost Tourism

The EDA has awarded Mount Washington Valley Trails Association, North Conway, New Hampshire, $2.2 million in grant funds to help support the construction a new recreational path. The new 2.2-mile multi-use recreational path is intended to attract additional visitors to the area and will extend the existing path from the Cranmore Mountain Resort north to the Intervale Scenic Vista.

“This latest grant from the Economic Development Administration reaffirms how critical the agency is to communities like North Conway, providing important federal investments to kick-start or enhance local projects,” New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen said. “This funding will do just that, by constructing a recreational path for Granite Staters and visitors from all over to explore and admire the beauty of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. This is a win for our tourism economy and the region. I’ll continue to fight for funding to support the EDA’s efforts, which so often benefit exciting Granite State projects like this.”

The grant will be matched $989,985 in local funding to create 30 jobs, retain 15 jobs and generate $70 million in private investment, according to estimates.

Alabama Cities Receive Economic Boost for Tourism Growth

Florence, Alabama, received an EDA grant of $1.7 million to upgrade the area’s sewer system and encourage growth in the local tourism industry. The upgraded sewer system infrastructure will support local events and job-training facilities at the Lauderdale County Agricultural Events Center, with the intention of elevating the local tourism economy.

Similarly, Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau of Tuscumbia, Alabama, has received a $1.7 million grant from the EDA to build a separate visitors center with the intention of boosting local tourism. The goal of the project is to drive more visitors to the birthplace of Hellen Keller and other local attractions. The grant money will be matched with $829,000 in local funds to support the project.

“Colbert County has so much to offer. From Helen Keller’s birthplace to the Muscle Shoals Sound that continues to influence American music, there is so much to see and do,” Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt said. “I’m glad that this new center will help even more people explore this culturally rich area of Alabama.”

New Orleans Receives $900,000 for Improvements to Jazz Museum

The Louisiana Museum Foundation has received a $900,000 grant from the EDA to fund renovations to the campus of the New Orleans Jazz Museum, which will include the remodeling of the museum’s cafe, the construction of an outdoor stage and other upgrades to the museum grounds.

“New Orleans’ cultural economy is one of the regions’ important economic drivers. I am proud to help bring home these resources so that it can thrive as our tourism industry recovers from the pandemic,” Louisiana Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr. said.

Moreover, the grant will be matched with $225,000 in local funding, which is expected to generate roughly $33 million in private investments while creating or maintaining 55 jobs.

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