EDC tourism fund requests total $160,000


By Mary O. Esparza - mesparza@civitasmedia.com



Area groups pitched their requests for tourism funding at a meeting this week to obtain a portion of the money obtained from local taxes.

The main purpose of the tourism funding is to increase visitors and tourists from outside Jackson County, to encourage overnight stays in local motels, to increase purchases from local and area businesses, and to contribute to the positive economic benefit of businesses and citizens of Altus and Jackson County.

The Altus Southwest Area Economic Development Corporation or EDC heard proposals from organizations desiring promotional funds to increase tourism and convention visitors to Altus from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.

On Monday afternoon the EDC tourism committee met in the Frisco room of the Altus City complex to review the requests.

The meeting was open to the contact person of the tourism activity for the opportunity to outline the financial request, describe the event and the anticipated economic benefits the event will bring to the Altus area.

The EDC serves as a channel for the City of Altus disbursement of required hotel and motel use tax to aid tourism and convention visitation to Altus. All the requests for funds will be evaluated based on need and community benefit.

“This year the EDC has received $160,000 in proposals for tourism funds and the EDC board is very excited,” said Brian Bush, EDC director. “It is positive for the Altus community because it proves our community is striving to do great things.”

Jenni Buchanan, director of the Museum of the Western Prairie and the Western Trails Historical Society, spoke to the committee on recent successful events and workshops hosted at the museum.

“The Military Affairs Committee, the Great Plains Country Association, Congressman Frank Lucas along with Governor Mary Fallin have used the museum for workshops, town hall meetings, and also hosted youth and adult music recitals; and there are 49 upcoming scheduled events to be held at the museum,” Buchanan said.

Her proposal focused on program funding and for major renovations to the museum’s lower courtyard, a new on-site agricultural barn and a catering kitchen. The renovations would offer the community a dinner venue to serve 250 people and a larger gathering space to accommodate up to 300-350 people, she said.

Raven Cade of QITC productions, requested funding for a fall event called “Project Elevate,” which focuses on bullying and is geared toward supporting youth. The event is a positive way to orientate youth on ways to overcome bullying. To promote this agenda, attractions include music from Cayden James and other activities, such as bouncy houses, food vendors and a carnival.

“Southwest Youth Services brought Project Elevate to Altus in 2014 and the turnout was great,” Cade said.

Chris Cary, president of the Great Plains Stampede Rodeo, was proud to report that 2016 will be the 39th year for Altus to host a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or PRCA-sanctioned rodeo.

Every year spectators travel from across Oklahoma and Texas to attend the three-day rodeo — they purchase gasoline, eat at the restaurants and 15 percent stay the night in local hotels, Cary said. It is a three-day event manned by local dedicated volunteers. It relies on business sponsorships and tourism funds with an estimated cost of $120,000. According to Cary, that pays for the stock contractors, the PRCA, the announcer, bull fighters, the burrow men, prizes and the Thursday night meal for all ticket holders. For the 40th anniversary in 2017, the rodeo committee seeks to add a motocross show to the list of activities.

Tatum Gallagher, Altus Recreation Advisory Committee member, requested funding to upgrade the 18-year-old floor at the Altus City Gym. Currently the concrete is shifting, causing movement in the gym floor, tabs are broken and there are cracks in a few areas of the floor.

Gallagher said there are possible liability issues if an ankle was broken or there was another injury. Ideas and proposals for a men’s basketball league have been brought to the ARAC board, and with a new floor, it is possible to host tournaments and add other adult sports programs. According to Gallagher, all of these would be moneymakers for the city and bring in additional revenue.

All tourism fund requests are scheduled to be reviewed at the next EDC meeting set for June 16.

By Mary O. Esparza

mesparza@civitasmedia.com

Reach Mary O. Esparza at 580-482-1221 ext. 2077.

Reach Mary O. Esparza at 580-482-1221 ext. 2077.

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