DUBOIS – Board members of Visit Clearfield County approved eight grants and awarded $10,650 to businesses and local events for signage and marketing projects at Wednesday’s regular board meeting at Treasure Lake’s Lakeview Lodge.
Grants were awarded in the amount of $1,912.50 to Ethan’s Café/The Angry Bean; $1,200 to the Tour de Susquehanna; $1,885 to Uzi’s Pastries; $375 to McCracken’s Canoes; $735 for the Clearfield YMCA 5K Race; $3,000 to the Clearfield Volunteer Fire Department Fair and Park Board; $592.50 to the Clearfield Revitalization Corp.’s Fall Festival; and $950 to Rock Run.
Board members Hildred Rowles, Terry Malloy, Jane Elling, Greg Sheehan, Ray Savel and Tom Grice voted for the grants’ approval. Board member Lynda McCracken abstained from the vote, as her business was among the grant recipients.
Board members Tracey Mahan, Wilson Fisher, Joan Robinson-McMillen, Nancy Micks and Kim McCullough were absent from the meeting.
Executive Director Holly Komonczi pointed out that the board only awarded $10,650 when $20,000 worth of funding is available. She suggested possibly having a “mini-grant” cycle to distribute the remaining funds to eligible applicants.
Sheehan asked why Rock Run had only been approved for approximately 11 percent of what it’d asked for.
Sue Swales-Vitullo, travel development specialist, indicated that Rock Run didn’t meet all of the necessary criteria in some areas.
Rowles said the grant funding being awarded is for future signage and marketing projects. He said it doesn’t serve as a reimbursement to businesses and events for activities that have already been completed.
Komonczi believed Visit Clearfield County was doing well financially and said it was “missing an opportunity” by only awarding $10,650 of the available $20,000. She said the board needed to get the available funding out of its hands and into the community. Sheehan pointed out that tourism funding has experienced drastic cuts in the state budget.
“We’re in a blessed situation right now . . . but I still think we need to keep our chestnuts close,” he said. He suggested the board determine its financial needs as far as its new office space and then return to the possibilities of awarding additional grant funding.
Grice said Visit Clearfield County needed to better publicize the funding it has available. Vitullo and Komonczi said it currently issues press releases and also gets it out by word of mouth and partner mailings. They said grants are discussed anytime they meet with local business owners.
Swales said they’re currently planning another grant workshop to help those who are applying for the funding. Grice said as a business owner, he wouldn’t likely attend a workshop but encouraged them to simplify and publicize the process.
Sheehan suggested several ideas, such as hosting a business “afterhours” event, teaming up with the Clearfield Chamber of Commerce and hosting an anniversary celebration for the grants it’s awarded to date. Malloy said business owners weren’t familiar with Visit Clearfield County.
“People don’t understand what we do. It all needs simplified. We need a brochure that outlines, “What is Visit Clearfield County?” he said.
Malloy briefly updated the board about the progress of new office space for Visit Clearfield County. He asked that Komonczi convene its audit and finance committee to determine what it can afford for monthly rent and operations over the next 10 years.
Komonczi said that approximately $2,600 monthly is what’s in the current budget. However, she said only $700 is actually being spent. Sheehan believed that $2,600 was reasonable for the monthly operation of an office.
Malloy said he wanted to get the audit and finance committee’s endorsement before proceeding with determining Visit Clearfield County’s needs as far as the office’s size.
Komonczi provided the board members with copies of its upcoming budget for review. She asked that they review the budget for further discussion and approval at the June 6 meeting.