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Tourism Partnership Spending $16 Million From BP

By Rhonda Miller | Published 01 May 2012 04:53pm | comments

BP has given a Mississippi Gulf Coast marketing organization $16million to help tourism recover from the oil spill.  MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports leaders from community groups met Tuesday to find out how to get a chunk of the money.

"Mississippi Gulf Coast. Discover the secret. Discover yourself."

At a workshop at the Knight Nonprofit Center in Gulfport, the Gulf Coast Regional Tourism Partnership unveiled its new criteria for awarding grants.

Sun Herald Marketing Director John McFarland is chairman of the Tourism Partnership, which was created last year to dish out the $16 million from BP.

"If you are one of those people who’s got an event that you’re working on, that you think could really make an impact on tourism, not just be a lot of fun for those of us who live here, but is something that could bring people in, who have never been here before, we want to start talking to you now."

 Tourism is a major economic engine for the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Teresa Youngblood of the Hope Community Development Agency in Biloxi has an event in mind to generate tourism dollars.

"It’s gonna be a run, it’s not quite named yet, but it’s going to be a run, some type of interactive activity that we can bring people from all across the region."

Some grants have already been awarded to expand the market for major events, like Cruisin’ the Coast and the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic golf tournament.

Charlie Cornelius of Pelican Events, which has been in Louisiana for 10 years, came to see how to apply for grants for projects in Mississippi.

"We’re producing two brand new festivals in the Bay Saint Louis area and we’re going to be producing another festival for an established organization, the Waveland Community Coalition, their Wavefest."

The BP funding is for three years. The Tourism Partnership is expecting to spend at least $10 million by the end of this year.





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