THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) has announced the launch of two new funding programs to support tourism industry growth through the CEDC’s share of the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT).
The program consists of two funding streams; one for tourism event growth support and the other supporting product development.
The program aims to support events or projects that attract out-of-town visitors for overnight stays in Thunder Bay and support visitor retention.
The CEDC MAT Events Fund will support enhanced sports events, festivals, cultural and musical events, corporate events and other special events that demonstrate a tourism value to attract significant numbers of out-of-town visitors and overnight stays to Thunder Bay.
Recognizing strong, consumer relevant visitor experiences as the foundation of a strong and sustainable tourism economy, The CEDC MAT Tourism Product Development Fund will support enhancements to or the creation of new infrastructure, business product offering or facilities that will both attract new visitors to the City and extend their visit resulting in increased overnight visits.
Private, public and not for profit sector organizations are eligible to apply to both funds.
“This new funding program will provide new opportunities for tourism development in the City of Thunder Bay,” said Doug Murray, the CEO of CEDC. “The management of accommodation tax resources and the addition of Tourism Thunder Bay to the CEDC mandate increases support to growing our economy.”
“The MAT funds can be leveraged with traditional commercial lending as well as provincial and federal funding to further opportunities for the local tourism industry around events and product development,” said Craig Urquhart, Chair of the CEDC Board of Directors.
“Tourism is a significant economic driver in our community and the city has earned a reputation as being one of Canada’s premier outdoor cities. The MAT funds and resulting CEDC funding programs are significant tools in growing the economic impact of our tourism industry and supporting a growth in entrepreneurship and employment.” said Paul Pepe, CEDC Tourism Thunder Bay Manager.
CEDC Municipal Accommodation Tax Funding Program Backgrounder
On September 1, 2018, the City of Thunder Bay implemented a municipal accommodation tax (MAT), a 4% tax charged on all fixed roof transient accommodation within the city. It is estimated that the tax will generate approximately $2 million annually.
On September 1, 2018, Tourism Thunder Bay moved from the City Manager’s office to the CEDC, in accordance with provincial legislation requiring a minimum of 50% of collected MAT funds is administered by a not-for-profit tourism or economic development entity.
The CEDC MAT Fund consists of funds collected annually by the City of Thunder Bay through the administration of the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT). The City of Thunder Bay retains 50% of the collected MAT funding to support infrastructure and programming. The CEDC receives and manages the remaining 50% minus minimal administration fees.
The CEDC allocation is anticipated to be approximately $1 million annually. The initial allocation of this money, as determined by the CEDC board, is 20% allocated to supporting enhanced marketing strategies, 25% to increased sport and convention attraction efforts and 55% allocated to product development support.
In December 2018, a seven-member Industry Tourism Investment Committee was established to develop and oversee the CEDC MAT funding programs. The committee comprises representation from the Thunder Bay Hotel Association, Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, events, attractions, commercial finance and a CEDC Board liaison. The CEDC CEO and Tourism Thunder Bay Manager hold ex officio seats on the committee. The committee meets monthly unless there are no current agenda items to the table.
The Committee commenced meetings in January 2019, developing terms of reference, identifying demands for supporting tourism growth and developing program guidelines and evaluation processes with the CEDC’s Tourism Thunder Bay team.
The two funding programs are officially open for tourism industry partners to submit applications on August 14, 2019.
Applications will be administered through a newly established seven-member Tourism Investment Committee (TIC) and the Board of Directors of the CEDC.
There will be a continual intake of applications for the Fund. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications a minimum of 90 days prior to the event or project start date.
Applicants to the product development funding stream will be required to develop and submit a business plan as part of their application process. Applicants are encouraged to work with the CEDC’s business advisors for assistance.
Applications are submitted to Tourism Thunder Bay’s Tourism Development Officer, John Cameron, where they will be verified for completeness of the information requested and to confirm the project or event has tourism value. Tourism staff can provide assistance to clarify and answer questions the applicant may have to complete gaps in the application.
The completed application will then be forwarded to the Tourism Investment Committee (TIC) for review and evaluation. The TIC can approve funding requests up to $50,000. If the amount requested is over $50,000, the TIC will refer the application with its recommendations to the Board of the Directors of the Thunder Bay CEDC for final approval.
Successful program applicants will be required to enter into legal agreements for the management of the funds and be required to submit progress and final reports with determined performance measurement targets established. Data collected from funding applicants will permit the CEDC to monitor the return on investment of the fund and gather consumer and industry data to build stronger marketing and product development programs.