MARSHALL — Community events like festivals or sports tournaments are fun to attend. They also have an important impact on Marshall’s economy and quality of life, said Visit Marshall director Cassi Weiss.
That’s why Visit Marshall is now offering grant support for community groups to hold events in town.
So far, the Visit Marshall Tourism Grant program has been able to provide a total of more than $10,000 in cash and in-kind support for local organizations and events.
“The goal of the grant is to not only build relationships with the organizations, but to be able to help them make their tournaments or events even better,” Weiss said.
“This being the first year, we’re trying to get the word out” about the program, she said.
The Visit Marshall Tourism Grant was established last year. The grant program did face a challenge in that it got started right before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled large gatherings and community events across Minnesota. However, Weiss said, Visit Marshall used the time to make sure the program was set up the way they wanted.
Grant funds of up to $1,000 per group are available for sports associations and tournaments, activity associations, special events and local tourist attractions. Weiss said Visit Marshall has also provided in-kind support to help with marketing the events.
In return, grant recipients are asked to list Visit Marshall as an event sponsor, allow a Visit Marshall banner to be put up at the event, and link to the Visit Marshall website.
So far, $8,000 in cash and $3,000 in in-kind support have been awarded through the grant program, Weiss said. Events that have received grant support have ranged from Marshall Area Youth Baseball Association tournaments and Marshall Softball’s Southwest Slugfest, to the Shades of the Past car club’s Downtown Roll-In, and even a precision shooting competition at the Redwood River Sportsmen’s Club.
Events like the ones that received grants have an important economic impact on Marshall, Weiss said. They encourage people to come to Marshall and spend time there. It encourages business for local restaurants, stores and hotels, especially if visitors are staying overnight.
“Our sports tournaments are a huge draw,” Weiss said.
Weiss said applications for Visit Marshall Tourism grants are still coming in. At the Marshall Convention and Visitors Bureau board’s last monthly meeting, they had five new applications to review, she said.
Visit Marshall wanted to make sure the tourism grant was easy to apply for, Weiss said. A tab with eligibility information and a short application form are available straight from the front page of the Visit Marshall website, https://visitmarshallmn.com.
“We wanted it to not be overwhelming for people,” so the application is only about six questions long, Weiss said.
Weiss said Visit Marshall is planning to keep the grant program going into the future. While this year the grant funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis, she said the goal for next year will be to have application windows far enough in advance that events can be promoted outside the Marshall area.
A youth sports and activities expo is also being planned for next spring, as a fundraiser to continue the community support into the future, Weiss said.