OCVA opens Strategic Investment Fund grant applications
On July 1, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA) opened applications for its annual Strategic Investment Fund. The grant funding, which comes from state-allocated Regional Cooperative Tourism Program funds, is in its third year. This year a total of $163,810 is available for projects along the Oregon Coast with a priority for projects requesting around $10,000. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the funds have been disbursed through June 30, 2020.
Arica Sears, OCVA Destination Management Coordinator, says non-governmental organizations and private businesses are eligible to apply for specific projects. Businesses can use the money for destination marketing or tourism-related professional development, such as attending a Travel Oregon conference.
“The fund has been created to rapidly and surgically respond to high value destination development or management projects in critical moments of need to sustain their viability or momentum,” Sears says. “The application process is simple, the projects are phenomenal, and the alignment of the coastal region will be strengthened.”
Sears says a strong application will show alignment with OCVA’s two-year plan, which began on July 1 and has carefully outlined the organization’s visitor demographics, goals and budgets for 2019-2020. Goals of the plan include increasing shoulder season visitation, highlighting the Oregon Coast Trail, investment in public art, agritourism, recreation and cultural heritage and speaking with a unified voice of the region.
Sears says OCVA is looking for destination development or management projects that are already underway and need funding to sustain momentum.
“We appreciate projects that already have the necessary permits, permission and community support. We generally don’t look to fund capacity,” she says.
Projects that have received funding in the past include the North Coast Land Conservancy (NCLC) CoastWalk Oregon, which received $5,000 in funding in 2018 and again in 2019. Now in its fourth year, the annual event is a three-day expedition that takes 90 participants on a supported hike along a 30-mile stretch of the Oregon Coast Trail. Last year the NCLC used the grant money to pay for bus shuttle to the Oregon Coast Scenic Railway, watercraft rental for the welcome event, a website update and printing of high visibility bandanas for participants and volunteers. CoastWalk Oregon has become the main fund-raising event for NCLC. The 2018 event raised $40,000 for the organization. This year’s event has already raised $45,000.
Bonnie Henderson, NCLC Communications Coordinator, says the organization’s grant application was strong because it aligned with OCVA’s interest in promoting the Oregon Coast Trail. In addition, the event emphasizes low-impact tourism on the Coast.
“It’s very much ecotourism,” she says. “We are trying not to disrupt the experiences of other visitors to the Coast.”
Henderson says that because hikers arrange their own lodging and dinners, they spend their money throughout Coast communities during and after the event. This year’s CoastWalk will include a segment of the Nature Conservancy’s Cascade Head and will end at Camp Westwind just off the Coast in Lincoln City.
On the Central Coast the Oregon Coast Aquarium received $12,000 in 2017-18 to construct a hiker/biker pod. Equipped with lockers, bicycle repair stations and bicycle pumps, the structure is expected to encourage bicycle tourists to visit the aquarium and the town of Newport.
“By installing the pod, travelers will be afforded the opportunity to safely visit one of Oregon’s top attractions and gain a deeper understanding of our marine ecosystems,” Sears says.
On the South Coast, the Battle Rock Audiopost Project received a $5,000 grant in 2017-18 to pay for an all-weather outdoor audio installation at Battle Rock Park in Port Orford. The audio post, called the U-Turn Round, is powered by a hand crank, and will play audio narratives about the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve, marine ecology, the local fishing fleet, migrating whales and other local topics of interest.
Photo of CoastWalk Oregon courtesy of North Coast Land Conservancy