PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Members of the West Virginia Tourism Commission began a two-day meeting at the Blennerhassett Hotel Wednesday to hear presentations from groups for matching advertising and marketing funds.
Mark Lewis, president and CEO of the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the first day was for presentations for MAPP funds, which stands for Matching Advertising Partnership Program. This matches funds for advertising and marketing across West Virginia.
Lewis said the meetings are quarterly and this is the commission’s first meeting in Wood County since 2009.
Lewis said while there were no requests from any Wood County organizations, there were some from surrounding counties. He said there will be requests from Wood County during the fall funding cycle.
“When the commission meets they do the MAPP meeting where they review the applications and make recommendations,” he said. “On the second day is the full tourism commission meeting where they get final approval, the MAPP Committee makes recommendations and the full commission actually acts on those recommendations and approves grants.”
Amy Goodwin, commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Tourism, said MAPP helps promote the division’s overall branding program of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
“We oversee the program from the state perspective,” she said. “What we try to do is incorporate everything in the state within these different entities.”
Goodwin said there is one requirement of any group receiving funding.
“Every one who receives a MAPP grant has to have our logo and our branding on it,” she said. “It really does help the state so all our branding pieces are out across the state.”
Oshel Craigo, chairman of the commission and former state senator from Putnam County, said the commission represents the tourism industry and representatives are drawn from the state’s congressional districts.
“We give matching grants for advertising by local businesses and convention and visitors bureaus and other entities,” he said. “We are up here today to have a regular meeting to review the requests and make recommendations for the commission to approve.”
Tourism Commissioner Sharon Rowe said more than 30 grants will be awarded, totaling more than $1 million.
“These are used primarily as marketing dollars for entities all over the state to promote tourism,” she said. “It’s all about tourism.”
Rowe said the grants in past years have covered programs ranging from the white water rafting industry to fairs and festivals.
Rowe said MAPP dates back to 1994 and draws its funds from the West Virginia Lottery.
“This money is from the lottery to match local people who are trying to promote West Virginia and to get people to come here,” she said. “This is matching money; they don’t get a dollar unless they put up a dollar.”
Lewis said MAPP is known across the country and many in the tourism industry are envious.
“This is envied by my tourism compatriots across the country,” he said. “They are amazed West Virginia has this program; it was so far-sighted when it was established and has done such a wonderful job of helping local folks partner with the state to promote their areas.”