Gov. Tony Evers in early 2020. (Courtesy Larry Lee)

Governor announces grants totaling $140 million for tourism, entertainment industries

By Patrick Lynn

Gov. Tony Evers today announced more than $140 million in grants to businesses and organizations that play an integral role in Wisconsin’s tourism and entertainment industries.

The new grant programs will be invested in industries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including live event venues, movie theaters, summer camps, minor league sports, and the lodging industry. Additional investments will be made in reopening Wisconsin historical sites and marketing support for Wisconsin’s tourism industry.

In an email statement to the media, Evers said Wisconsin is bouncing back stronger than ever.

“Whether it’s an urban or a rural destination, these investments will help make sure that local venues and businesses come out of this pandemic ready to welcome folks from communities around Wisconsin and across the country,” he said. “Wisconsin is the best place to live, play, and work, and investing in businesses that promote culture and entertainment in our communities will pay dividends for Wisconsinites and communities across our state.”

Department of Tourism Interim Secretary Anne Sayers said she was grateful for Evers’ “dedication to tourism,” which is one of the state’s largest industries.

“From leisure travelers looking to reconnect with friends and family to business travelers attending meetings and conventions, these dollars will be crucial to help our industry bounce back,” Sayers said. “We can’t wait to help more travelers discover the unexpected in Wisconsin.”

Grants include:

$75 million for lodging grants;
$11.25 million for movie theaters;
$12 million for live event small businesses;
$2.8 million for minor league sports teams;
$10 million for live venues;
$15 million for destination marketing organizations;
$8 million for summer camps;
$1 million for the Wisconsin Historical Society to assist in reopening historical sites; and
$7.5 million to increase marketing support for Wisconsin’s tourism industry.

The grants are being funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) and will be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the Department of Revenue.