Posted by Kyle Leppek on March 5th, 2014
If awarded, $99,000 grant would use digital marketing
LAKE CO. — Next month, county officials hope to hear that they have be awarded a nearly $100,000 grant to market Lake County as an off-road vehicle tourist destination.
On Feb. 28 a grant application was submitted by the Lake County Board of Commissioners to the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development seeking a $99,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant. If the county is awarded the grant in April, the money will be used to brand the county as an ORV tourist destination through mostly digital media.
The approximately 400 page application included assistance from the Michigan Association of Counties, county prosecutor and his staff, county clerk and her staff, county treasurer and her staff, local businesses and board of commissioners. It even involved finding the public act that formed Lake County in 1871 from the state archives.
HISTORY: Pictured is part of the original public act that formed Lake County in 1871. It was included in the county’s grant application and had to be retrieved from the state archives. (Courtesy photo)
“It was a real team effort in terms of everybody that helped kick in to get this done,” said Commissioner Dan Sloan.
Originally, the county was seeking a $100,000 grant, but that changed after the applicants realized they would score higher on the application if the amount requested was less than $100,000. Lake County’s application also is expected to score higher because of some of the challenges residents face.
“The fact that we are a county that has a lot of challenges in terms of a high poverty rate and high unemployment rate, and those are chronic, those give us greater scores than other counties,” Sloan said. “They enhance our chances of getting assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.”
If the county is awarded the grant, implementing its proposal would be a two year process. The county would use the money to establish a website, for video and photography production, create digital and print ads and other Internet related marketing. The first year would likely be spent getting everything up and running, while the following year would be a fully operational marketing campaign.
While the county would be the fiduciary, a committee consisting of county government officials and business owners would be formed to oversee the program. The hope is if residents like the program that they will continue to support it after the grant period.
Included in the application we letters from more than 30 Lake County businesses which employ more than 200 people supporting the grant. While the grant is specifically aimed toward ORV tourism, Sloan sees it helping a broad range of businesses throughout the county.
“If we can get more people in the county, we know that it is going to help our businesses; they will stop and spend some dollars,” Sloan said.