Hotel tax grants to attract more visitors to Arlington
August 27, 2008 · Updated 3:57 PM
ARLINGTON More visitors in Arlington is the ultimate goal in the city of Arlingtons Hotel-Motel Tax Grant Program which is offering $61,354 to seven Arlington organizations for tourism promotion projects this year.
The Hotel-Motel Tax Fund is comprised of taxes collected by hotels and motels. Formerly north Snohomish County funds were distributed by Snohomish County.
Since Arlington created its own Hotel-Motel Tax Fund in 2005, now all the funds collected by hotels inside Arlingtons city limits are distributed by the city of Arlington.
This is the second distribution of monies after the fund was established two years ago.
The total amount available from the first full year since the fund was established was slightly more than $100,000 and the total amount requested was just over $61,000.
A Hotel-Motel Tax Grant committee member who is also a beneficiary on behalf of the Arlington Fly-In, Fly-In director Barbara Tolbert is well-experienced in the grant program after serving six years on the countys Tourism Bureau Board of Directors.
The most important goal for the program is getting more people to spend a night here, so we have more money in the grant fund to spend next year, Tolbert said.
Funded projects should be oriented to attract visitors for an overnight stay in Arlington.
Tolbert said that the Fly-In grant will be used to pay for rack cards and for advertising in national magazines such as Sport Aviation, Sport Pilot and Pacific Fly-In.
We have already booked up the Hawthorn Inn and the Quality Inn for the entire Fly-In weekend, Tolbert said.
Along with the EAA Fly-Ins grant for $18,600, the groups who will be reimbursed after the money is spent include the Arlington Education Foundation ($15,000); Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce ($16,778), the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association ($4,976); Downtown Arlington Merchants ($4,000) and Arlington Arts Council ($2,000).
The AEF requested funds to help pay for the grand opening celebration of the Arlington Performing Arts Center which is set for May 31 to June 3 but have since decided to use the money to bring acts to the new theater and to publicize the acts with a professional looking flyer.
Its great to have the money to put together a good quality professional PR piece, said Superintendent Linda Byrnes who is on the board of the AEF.
We need to look professional to be recognized as professional, Byrnes said.
While the AEF was founded as the nonprofit arm of Arts Alive! to create a fund for tax deductible donations for the construction of the performing arts center, its role has changed since Arts Alive! has met its goal and the PAC is being completed.
AEF president Cindy Huleatt said the members of the AEF Board just recently met for a retreat to identify its new mission now that the PAC is nearing completion and the funds are in place.
We will be more of a traditional education foundation to serve all of education, not just the arts, Huleatt said. Huleatts fellow officers are Kathy Burkholder, vice president, Anita McKinley, treasurer and David Duskin.
We have both Superintendent Linda Byrnes and Mayor Margaret Larson on our board, Huleatt said.
The board attended a conference of education foundations in Bellevue recently and got all kinds of good ideas, Huleatt said. In the meantime, the AEF will continue managing the tax grant this year until the new Arlington Performing Arts Center Council gets up and running to supervise management of the theater.
Another substantial grant of $16,778 was awarded to the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce. The chamber will use $9,000 to help pay the rent for the Visitor Information Center with whom it shares its office space just four blocks off of I-5 in Smokey Point. The other $7,778 will go toward the cost of printing visitor information and a schedule of events in the annual telephone directory, which goes to all information requests.
We send the phone directory with information packets to requests from across the country, said Sharon Shaw, the executive director of the chamber.
I am very grateful for the funding on both those projects, Shaw added. It really helps out here at the chamber office.
The SVPA will use its $,4,976 to update and reprint brochures about the museum, an important destination for visitors who want to learn more how Arlington and the Stillaguamish River Valley got to be the way it is now.
Art is up there with history as important tourist attractions and the Arlington Arts Councils proposed brochure, Art in Arlington will provide information about the growing public art collection that includes four Harry Engstrom murals, two Verena Schwippert stone sculptures as well as the Centennial Fountain created by Charles Bigger on Division Street as a memorial to the State Centennial in 1989.
The Downtown Arlington Merchants will complete a brochure with a schedule of activities for the summer, highlighting the events that are different due to the Olympic Avenue construction project. The schedule of events brochure will highlight the new temporary route for the parade as well as notifying the community that the Kiddies Parade, the carnival and the Arlington Street Fair are cancelled this year due to the street renovation.
Representing the hotel industry on the Hotel Tax Grant committee are Maryann Monty and Amber Armstrong. Armstrong is general manager of the Hawthorn Inn, which is owned by Monty.
While the hotel business benefits from the promotions funded by the grants, so does all the community, Monty points out.
Even when local people put relatives up in the local hotel, they are donating to this good cause, Monty said. Each hotel guest contributes to the fund, which ultimately benefits the Arlington economy and all its residents.
The most important thing is to spend the money on getting people from afar to spend the night in Arlington, Tolbert said.
Tourism is the best method for economic develoment, because you dont have to provide the long-term infrastructure, said Tolbert, who is also a member of the citys economic development committee.