Vicksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau awaiting estimated $1.2 to $1.4 million in ARPA funds

Published 9:24 am Thursday, September 1, 2022

The Vicksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau is waiting to receive American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds.

During the VCVB’s monthly board meeting, which was held Aug. 25 at the Hampton Inn, VCVB Executive Director Laura Beth Strickland reported ARPA funds, which have been allocated as round two of the Tourism Recovery Fund have still not been received.

“We are still working on getting our ARPA funds,” Strickland said. The VCVB has submitted all the necessary paperwork, but because all applications received have not yet been verified Strickland said monies will not be dispersed. She confirmed the VCVB application has been verified.

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Strickland said, based on the formula being used (75 percent of the marketing spend from the year 2000, times four, plus the percentage of being a top ten destination in the state), ARPA funds the VCVB should receive are estimated at $1.2 to $1.4 million over four years.

“We are very happy and so thankful to the state legislators for giving us that opportunity to market our state and all of our tourism assets,” Strickland said.

Unlike ARPA funds the City of Vicksburg and the Warren County Board of Supervisors received, where outside entities were allowed to request funds from the allocations, Strickland said the ARPA funds the VCVB will receive will go strictly toward tourism.

“We cannot distribute our funds to anyone else. Our funds can only be used for marketing,” she said.

Specific guidelines for how the ARPA funds the VCVB is waiting to receive have not been released yet. Guidelines from the Mississippi Tourism Recovery Campaign funds distributed in 2020 stated the ARPA funds were to be used toward:

  • New Content Assets: photography, videography, must follow social distancing guidelines and can include masks
  • New Content Collateral: printed collateral pieces, branded materials promoting safe travel and social distancing activities, signage,
    branded material promoting safe travel social distancing activities at tourism offerings (attractions, restaurants, hotels, etc.)
  • New Content Production: graphic design, infographics, branded itineraries, travel tips, copywriting, website updates, SEO
  • Digital: SEM, display, geofence, social media, PPC / CPC advertising, third party travel sites
  • Broadcast: cable, connected TV, syndicated radio, Pandora radio
  • Print: travel and lifestyle publications, newspaper services
  • New Marketing Outdoor: billboard advertising and temporary attraction signage/banners
  • Public Relations: media outreach and pitches, guest blogs, travel influencer posts, etc.
  • Research: tracking consumer sentiment and marketing effectiveness, updated visitor profile
  • Tourism Development Items: content development for new/enhanced attractions, virtual event equipment, new virtual or update
    experiential tours that meet the latest CDC guidelines
  • Administrative Costs: substantially difference use tasks for sales and marketing team; include time sheets and job descriptions

Guidelines from the Mississippi Tourism Recovery Campaign funds distributed in 2020 stated the ARPA funds were not eligible for:

  • Subgrant dollars to other entities
  • Additional advertising buys of existing ad content
  • Long-Term Strategic Plan
  • Rebranding
  • Real estate purchases
  • Operating Costs (rent, utilities, etc.)
  • Membership dues
  • Professional development
  • Promotional Items with no direct connection to public health emergency
  • Supplementing salaries without document connection to COVID-19

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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