Wisconsin's tourism and entertainment industry is set to get a financial boost in federal dollars to help build back losses from the pandemic.
On Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers announced a budget of more than $140 million that will go to Wisconsin's tourism and entertainment industries that were hit hard by the pandemic.
These investments are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) and will be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the Department of Revenue.
The dollars will be distributed as follows:
- $75 million for lodging grants;
- $11.25 million for movie theaters;
- $12 million for live event small businesses;
- $2.8 million for minor league sports teams;
- $10 million for live venues;
- $15 million for destination marketing organizations;
- $8 million for summer camps;
- $1 million for the Wisconsin Historical Society to assist in reopening historical sites; and
- $7.5 million to increase marketing support for Wisconsin's tourism industry.
"Obviously, this past year has been really difficult for everybody, filled with loss for lots of people," Evers said to a group at the Visit Sheboygan Center Thursday.
Movie theaters suffered great loss after being forced to shut down for months and gaining no revenue. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, five out of the 20 local theaters in town are still not open.
George Rouman, President of the National Association of Theater Owners of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan, oversees nearly 100 theaters and hopes the $11 million in grant dollars will make up for the losses.
"If you're a business that has been closed or has not operated very much over the last several months, we don't have a lot of inventory, so we have to stock up on our concession supplies, cleaning supplies, or any number of things. We had members that had to find new banks because they had credit lines that were completely taken away and our industry suddenly, overnight, became seen as too risky," said Rouman.