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CIB contributes $500,000 toward tourism effort

October 11, 2011

A $500,000 gift from the Capital Improvement Board of Marion County will enable the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association to continue an annual marketing campaign aimed at attracting visitors to the city.

The amount, approved by CIB members on Monday, allows the ICVA to fulfill its portion of a $5.4 million matching grant it received in January 2010 from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation Inc.

Dean White is the founder of Merrillville-based White Lodging, the developer of the $425 million, 1,600-room Marriott Place hotel complex downtown. The flagship 1,000-room JW Marriott opened in February and was essential to the city’s hosting of the 2012 Super Bowl.

ICVA is using $2.9 million of the White gift for a three-year marketing campaign slated to end in 2012 targeting Midwestern cities such as Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Louisville and Columbus, Ohio. The group needed to match the $2.9 million with equal funds of its own to receive the full grant.

The city of Indianapolis kicked in $1.5 million toward the match, and area destinations such as The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art and Conner Prairie contributed about $800,000.

Including other funds, ICVA still needed about $500,000 to complete the match and to continue the campaign into next year.

ICVA studies show the campaign last year brought between $1.2 million and $1.6 million in additional hotel tax revenue to the CIB.

“If we don’t make this investment and we don’t garner that revenue, then those taxes aren’t going to come in,” CIB President Ann Lathrop said.

Through August, the CIB is running about $3 million ahead of budget in food-and-beverage tax and hotel-tax collections.

ICVA likely will begin buying television spots immediately for its 2012 leisure tourism campaign to take advantage of cheaper advertising rates, said Chris Gahl, the association’s vice president of marketing and communications. Prices are expected to escalate next year because of the Summer Olympics as well as the November elections.

“We’re extremely grateful toward the CIB for this one-time grant,” Gahl said. “Getting individual travelers from across the Midwest to stay in Indianapolis is a very lucrative part of our tourism strategy.”

ICVA is using $2.4 million of the White grant to market the expanded Indiana Convention Center with the intent of drawing more conferences to the city.

The association operates with a $12 million annual budget, of which roughly 70 percent is funded by the CIB.
 

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