Record revenue for visitor center could bring new grant


Record revenue for the Jackson County Visitor Center in 2018 is expected to provide new and additional grant opportunities for local organizations.

The agency collected $509,012.30 in innkeepers tax last year, according to financial reports. The tax is paid by those who pay for rooms at local hotels and is used to fund the center, 100 N. Broadway St., Seymour.

The center receives the revenue from 14 hotels, cabins and places that provides lodging for overnight stays.

That’s up from just more than $472,000 in 2017. During a nine-year period, innkeepers tax revenue has grown every year except 2013.

The 2018 numbers came off a strong start to this year when the visitor center received $33,620.82 in January. That’s compared to $26,697.41 in January 2018.

The visitor center took in more than $50,000 each month in three different months in 2018 with the highest in July at $51,139.85.

That has positioned the center to consider creating a new $100,000 impact grant.

Arann Banks, executive director of the Jackson County Visitor Center, said that money will be distributed to one organization or split between two.

The grant application has not been designed and requires state approval.

Banks said the application process is expected to close in October with the grant being awarded in December.

“It would be a big Christmas present for an organization or maybe two,” she said.

The center also is accepting applications for its annual $20,000 grant, which goes to improve local parks, organizations, historical sites and places that people may visit. That grant is generally split between several organizations.

“It’s for our tourism partners to enhance those areas,” Banks said.

The deadline for the first grant is April 1, and grants will be awarded in May.

The center will award another $20,000 in funding in the fall, Banks said.

It’s the first time it has offered the $20,000 grant twice in the same year, and board members plan to offer two each year for the next five years, Banks said.

“That gives us the opportunity to put $200,000 in our communities and see how much impact that creates,” she said.

The center also helps local organizations with marketing of their events that draw tourism.

Banks said it is exciting seeing the number of people visit Jackson County annually. She said it shows more people are spending their money and time in the community.

“The trends are telling us that times are good and people are getting out and doing things,” Banks said.

She said many have started to use long weekends for recreational and club sports, which in turn gives them an extended stay at hotels here.

“Our community is a hub for youth sports,” she said, adding youth traveling teams are the county’s largest innkeepers revenue stream.

Agritourism also is on the rise, as many people prefer to see where their food comes from, including farm operations, farmers markets and more.

Banks said Jackson County is well-positioned for that type of tourism. She said many people also spend time at recreational areas like Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Jackson-Washington State Forest and Starve Hollow State Recreation Area.

There also are historical sites like the Medora Covered Bridge, the John Mellencamp tour, Reno Gang sites and more.

The county also has traditions of its annual events that draw a number of people, Banks said.

All of it adds up to a place worth visiting, she said.

“There are a number of places that make Jackson County special, and people are seeing that and spending time with us,” Banks said.

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Innkeepers tax revenue by the year








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