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Allocations Edging Back Up To Pre-Covid Levels But Grants Are Awarded To Fewer Organizations
By Tina Traster
The allocations are still a bit less in 2022 than they were pre-COVID, but the gratitude is even greater as 22 recipients of Rockland County’s Tourism Grants receive $205,000.
“The tourism and hospitality industry were particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two years,” said County Executive Ed Day. “Despite those challenges, we continue to welcome visitors to Rockland to visit our unique downtowns, museums, art galleries and attend our festivals. They can dine in our restaurants, shop in our stores and enjoy our attractions. This activity brings money that helps to grow our economy, create jobs and stabilize taxes.”
The county bumped up its spending from last year when 18 organizations were awarded $175,691 but the total is still less than the 2020 expenditure when 32 projects were awarded $212,000.
The county, along with New York State, has been handing out tourism grants since 2014.
This year, as in past years, Visit Nyack led the pack with a $25,000 grant, a tick up from the $20,000 it received in 2021 but only half of the $50,000 it received in 2020. Visit Nyack will continue to use grant money to fund a multi-year advertising campaign that brings tourists from the metro area and surrounding counties.
“This has been a good partnership for many years,” said Visit Nyack President Thomas Schneck. “We’re extremely grateful that the county continues to support Nyack, a gateway to the county, which is good for both the village and hopefully for the county as a whole.”
Another gateway community – Sloatsburg – was also treated with some love from the county with a $13,400 grant for the Sloatsburg Chamber of Commerce and $15,000 to Friends of Harmony Hall. In 2021, the county recognized Sloatsburg’s efforts in attracting tourism with a a $12,941 grant to the Sloatsburg Chamber of Commerce and a $20,000 grant to Friends of Harmony Hall.
“This is important for Sloatsburg,” said Sloatsburg Chamber of Commerce President Aidan Hand. “We’re a part of the community that connects the region to the parks and all the activities that come with enjoying nature. There is a lack of awareness beyond Rockland County about what the park region has to offer. We’re eager to play our role in bringing awareness, which in turn, benefits the bars, restaurants and local businesses.”
The tourism funds derive from a combination of county money and from the statewide “I Love New York” program. The grants are competitive and come with a list of performance expectations attached to every dollar awarded.
The organizations use funds for promotion and advertising programs, initiatives and events. Rockland has been positioning itself as a destination where tourists can stop at multiple locations — such as traveling through the river towns — rather than visiting a single village or town and then leaving, says Day.
“Economic development via tourism plays a major role in the health and vitality of the county,” said Economic Development and Tourism Director Lucy Redzeposki. “The organizations awarded today will be able to showcase our county and attract visitors.”
The average household in Rockland County would have to pay an additional $422 in property taxes annually to maintain current services if not for tourism-generated sales and local taxes.
The grants include a robust list of cultural and historic organizations including the Edward Hopper House Museum, the Haverstraw Brick Museum, the Holocaust Museum & Center For Tolerance and Education, the Penguin Rep Theater, Rockland Center for the Arts and GARNER Arts Center.
“We’re very grateful for the help and support and we view this award as a vote of confidence for what we do,” said GARNER’s Jesse Heffler, Director of Programs and Operations. “We will continue to advertise in regional outlets with an eye toward attracting tourism to GARNER.”