Fiscal Year 20/21 presented challenges for the Mt. Hood & Columbia River Gorge region. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the region’s businesses, which were understaffed and under resourced.High use destination management needs persisted, but with limited RCTP funding to support them.
The region had not performed well in past Travel Oregon grant cycles even though we held grant training programs. Low numbers of applications and incomplete applications were among the top reasons for not getting awarded.
Previously held grant workshops in the region were well attended, but did not result in grant applications. The Mt. Hood & Columbia River Gorge region quickly learned that one-on-one customized grant support is what communities needed to be successful.
Based on these learnings, the Mt. Hood & Columbia River Gorge RDMO took a new approach to help local tourism partners access funding for their tourism projects. In March 2021, a grant contractor was hired as a resource for our partners to:
- Identify grants applicable to their work.
- Work with partners to help them plan for and write grant applications.
- Review grant applications before submission.
From the end of March until the end of June 2021, the grant contractor:
- Engaged with 13 tourism stakeholders in the region to discuss grant opportunities.
- Worked directly with nine tourism stakeholders in the region on grant applications that amounted to $194,218 in grant requests (some of which are still waiting for results).
- Secured awards for three partners (others are still waiting for grant results) totalling $71,256 in grant investments in the region. These projects include:
- $13,266 for MountNbarreLFor hand, fruit and vehicle sanitation systems and safety messaging to offer a COVID-19 appropriate visitor experience.
- $12,760 for Mt. Hood OutfittersTo construct an onsite boat storage building to provide a safer and more efficient way for boat renters to have access to watercraft recreation at Trillium Lake.
- $45,230 for Port of The DallesTo improve safety and infrastructure, including launch ramp repairs and wayfinding enhancements, at The Dalles Marina.
There has been tremendous positive feedback from regional partners about this new resource available. The Mt. Hood & Columbia River Gorge RDMO will continue to invest in and offer this resource in the FY 21–23 biennium.