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Tourism grant to help Florence County promote its ‘wild rivers’

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism presents a JEM Grant check for its FUN on the Wild Rivers. From left are District 34 state Rep. Rob Swearingen, Florence County Economic Development Executive Director Wendy Gehlhoff and Wisconsin Department of Tourism Regional Tourism Specialist Jeff Anderson.

FLORENCE, Wis. — Florence County Economic Development will use a $3,800 Wisconsin Department of Tourism Joint Effort Marketing grant to promote its “wild rivers” — the Pine and Popple.

The grant will help fund easy-to-follow itineraries for travelers to the wild rivers. The campaign is set to run through October.

“The FUN on the Wild Rivers campaign is a good example of how JEM Grant funds offer multi-year support to a destination looking to research, brand and market their product to travelers,” state Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney said. “Northern Wisconsin offers endless outdoor recreation opportunities. We’re excited to support Florence County as they spread the word about the many ways visitors can engage with the area’s natural resources.”

The itineraries and corresponding campaign build on past research and marketing efforts from previous JEM grants awarded to the county.

This year’s grant funds will go towards print, radio, online and outdoor advertising to promote half-day, full-day and weekend itineraries in Florence County throughout Wisconsin. The campaign is expected to attract 700 visitors to the area, generating an estimated $58,400 in visitor spending.

“We are grateful for the support of this Wisconsin Department of Tourism JEM Grant program. This three-year program has helped us brand and market our unique state-designated, undeveloped and pristine Wild Rivers: the Pine and the Popple,” Florence County Economic Development Director, Wendy Gehlhoff said. “These rivers offer FUN opportunities not just for paddling and tubing on the rivers but also for hiking, fall-color photography, fishing, berry picking and getting away from the crowds.”

To have FUN on the Wild Rivers, go to www.exploreflorencecounty.com in September and October for new itineraries

In 2018, business sales in Florence County totaled $8.3 million, supporting 95 jobs and more than $600,000 in state and local taxes.

In fiscal year 2019, the department funded 62 JEM projects, awarding a total of more than $1.1 million. Visitor expenditures driven by the marketing from these projects will exceed $61 million.

JEM grant funds are available to non-profit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project’s first-year advertising and marketing costs, and provide support for second- and third-year projects with decreasing amounts for funding until projects become self-sustaining. For more information on the JEM Program and application materials, go to industry.travelwisconsin.com.

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market Wisconsin as the Midwest’s premier travel destination by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at www.travelwisconsin.com.