Q. Who is eligible to apply?
A. Small tourism-oriented businesses are eligible to apply if they have less than 20 full-time employees, are committed to marketing off-season visitation, (September 2023 to May 2024), and are partnering with other businesses to promote the region. Organizations such as VTC-recognized DMOs, Chambers of Commerce, PDCs, Main Streets, Downtown Merchant and other associations and organizations that promote tourism-oriented small businesses may also apply.
Q. How much match is required?
A. This is a 1:1 marketing match program. Match can be cash or in-kind. Please read the program instructions on how to value in-kind marketing expenses related to owned and earned media channels.
Q. What do the grant funds cover?
A. The Microbusiness Marketing Leverage Program is only for eligible marketing expenses. A list of eligible and ineligible marketing expenses can be found in the program Terms and Conditions. The Special Events & Festivals Program that will open in early 2024 allows for some event production costs. Preliminary information on that program can be found at www.vatc.org/grants.
Q. Do we receive grant funds up-front?
A. No. This is a reimbursable grant where you would have to request reimbursement and submit proof of payment and proof of following the required elements as listed in the program Terms and Conditions.
Q. How will funding be awarded?
A. This is a competitive program so be sure to read all the documents before starting your application. We will not start reviewing any applications until September 29, 2023, so you have plenty of time to review the requirements and apply. Each application will be scored by a Grants Review Team member with the highest scores receiving funding. In some cases, partial funding may be awarded.
Q. How many awards will you make?
A. Our funding cap is approximately $900,000. We anticipate being able to fund 80-100 applications.
Q. Are non-profits able to apply for this grant?
A. Yes, if they meet the program criteria of for eligibility and engage in marketing tourism-oriented small businesses during the September 2023 to May 2024 off-season visitation period.
Q. When will the applications be reviewed/scored?
A. We will not start reviewing any applications until September 29th. Awards will be announced in late October.
Q. What does promotion of the tourism shoulder season mean?
A. The tourism shoulder season is from September 2023 to May 2024, when tourism travel typically decreases. Applicants are encouraged to think creatively about how to activate their fall, winter, and early spring activities for long-weekend travel, retiree and remote worker weekday travel, holiday travel, and how to entice tailgaters and sports fans to add a few days to game weekends and explore your destination and business.
Q. I already placed some advertisements for the Fall travel season. Can I include those in my marketing plan for reimbursement?
A. Yes. Eligible marketing costs that you have incurred since July 1, 2023, AND that market small businesses/shoulder season travel are eligible for reimbursement. Be sure to include these in your marketing plan line items. Alternatively, you can count these in your cash or in-kind match line-item list.
Q. Who qualifies as a part-time or full-time employee?
A. Employees who work 40 or more hours per week are considered full-time. While the application asks about part-time and seasonal employees, these are not counted toward the full-time cap of 20.
Q. Can I apply if my event is after May 31, 2024?
A. No. This program is to drive visitation between September 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024. However, please take a look at the Marketing Leverage Program and the Special Events and Festivals Program information on www.vatc.org/grants. Those programs will open in early 2024 and may be a good fit for events after May 31, 2024.
Q. I own three small businesses. One location has 25 full-time employees, but the other two only have 10 full-time employees. Combined, I have 45 employees. Can I still apply?
A. Our programs are based on Federal Employer Identification # or Social Security # (if a sole proprietorship.) If you have more than 20 full-time equivalent employees associated with one FEI# then you are not eligible to apply. If you have 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees for an FEI#, you can apply for the location with that FEI#.
Q. Our Chamber of Commerce has more than 20 full-time employees, can we still apply?
A. Yes. Organizations, such as Main Street organizations, Planning District Commissions, and Chambers may apply if their application is focused on marketing small businesses and/or off-peak/shoulder season visitation.
Q. What does it mean that I must spend 25% of my award in an out-of-state market?
A. If you are requesting a $5,000 award, you must spend at least $1,250 targeting an out-of-state market. You may use digital media, social media, or other advertising and media outlets, such as print newspaper and magazines.
Q. I have more than seven line items in my reimbursable marketing plan. What should I do?
A. Because this is a microbusiness program with a smaller award maximum, we would like you to concentrate your marketing dollars on no more than seven marketing outlets/initiatives. Review your marketing plan and adjust it so that you do not go over seven line items in your in-kind marketing plan or marketing plan. Be detailed with your placement dates and target demographics in each line item.
Q. If I get funding in this Microbusiness Marketing Leverage Program round, can I still apply for the Early 2024 Marketing Leverage Program, Special Events & Festival Program and/or the DMO Marketing program?
A. Yes, but the early
2043 2024 applications must be for new initiatives under those programs’ Terms and Conditions.
Q. I live in Virginia, but my business is based in Maryland. Can I still apply?
A. No. Businesses and organizations must be in Virginia to apply.
Q. Can I submit multiple applications under the same FEI # or SS#?
A. No. We only permit one application per FEI# or SS#.
Q. Can musicians and performers apply as sole proprietors/small businesses?
A. No. This program is designed to drive visitation to venues, destinations, attractions, and brick and mortar businesses. However, venues that are featuring those musicians and performers are encouraged to apply.
Q. Our DMO is a parks & recreation and tourism department – should I only be counting the employees that work in the Tourism division?
A. Yes, the only employees that should be counted are the ones in the tourism division.
Q. Are Industrial Development Authorities (IDAs) and Economic Development Authorities (EDAs) eligible for the (VTC) Microbusiness Marketing Leverage Program?
A. Yes, IDAs are eligible to apply for the Microbusiness Marketing Leverage Program if your marketing plan is promoting tourism-oriented small businesses during the off-peak season and driving overnight visitation.
Q. What is the timeline for the performance measures?
A. Performance measures would be for where you are now and where you want to be in May 2024.
Q: How do I value my email list for in-kind match?
- You can count each email at 10¢ value.
Q: How do I value web clicks?
- Value them at 10¢ each for 2022-2023 comparative months.
For instance, if your Reimbursable Marketing Plan has marketing from September 2023 to May 2024, value your web clicks from September 2022 to May 2023 at 10¢ each as in-kind match.
If your Reimbursable Marketing Plan is only for November to December 2023 then only value your web clicks from November to December 2022 at 10¢ each.