116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The city of Marion is looking for ideas on how to increase tourism in the city.
Any nonprofit or local government agency has until May 10 to apply for a grant that promises to increase the number of visitors to the city.
The funding for the grants will come from the 7 percent tax collected on overnight stays in hotels and motels.
Around $175,000 is expected to be available for the competitive grant program in the 2021-22 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The tax has been in place since 1984.
Marion plans to spend close to 100 percent of its motel/hotel revenues on the grant program, city accountant Brian McKenzie said.
The grant applications will be reviewed by city staff, city council members and council-appointed citizens, who will recommend funding allocations to the city council.
Projects that increase tourism and result in more overnight hotel/motel stays in Marion will be given priority.
McKenzie said the grant program is split into two categories: city of Marion events; and commissions and nonprofit organizations and events.
“We generally receive between 15 and 20 applications each year, and they are scored based on weighted criteria by our committee,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie said it’s difficult to say how much tax revenue was lost last year due to the pandemic because the start of the pandemic coincided with the opening of the TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel, 2823 Seventh Ave., which prompted an uptick in revenue.
“There is no doubt there has been an impact, but we are fortunate, as a growing city, we hope that our hotel/motel revenue will continue to rise,” he said.
The city expects to collect $205,000 in hotel-motel taxes this fiscal year.
Grant applications are on the city’s website. Awards are expected to be made during the June 17 Marion City Council meeting.
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