CASPER, Wyo. — The Natrona County Travel and Tourism Council approved over $50,000 in grant funding during their Tuesday, April 23 meeting to support various groups that organize events in Casper.
The Council approved $25,000 to Proud to Host the Best, an organization that supports Wyoming High School Athletics Association championship events in Casper.
Council members said they want to support this organization due to the economic impact the events it supports brings to Casper. Council Chair Renee Penton-Jones said the tournaments bring in about $3.8 million to Casper’s economy.
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She added that they generate about $38,000 in lodging tax revenue and $106,000 in state sales tax revenue, $45,600 of which is returned to Casper.
“If you look at this thing, it’s a monster,” Council member Kevin Hawley said.
Hawley suggested the Council provide additional funding by committing to match dollars that other groups in the community could contribute to Proud to Host the Best.
“It has been my experience that these matches help,” he said.
Hawley suggested that the Council match up to $10,000. The Council decided to table his suggestion until their next meeting.
Penton-Jones said that the $25,000 would likely be a one time request from Proud to Host the Best, as they receive annual funding from Visit Casper of about $35,000.
The Council also approved giving $7,500 to the Wyoming Amateur Wrestling Association for their state championships. The organization had requested $15,000.
They awarded Special Olympics Wyoming $3,500 for their 2019 Fall Tournament. Council member Tiffany Gamble said some of that funding would be used for bowling alley facility fees.
The Council approved giving $3,500 to the Garden Creek Volleyball Club for their Wyoming Super Regionals, which is scheduled to take place May 18-19.
Gamble said that only 15 of the 110 teams that participate in this tournament come from Casper, meaning the event will bring a lot of people in from out of town.
A total of $5,500 was awarded to the Casper Soccer Club for their Fall Classic and State Championship tournaments.
“Those are great events,” Gamble said. “They do well.”
The Council approved giving the Wyoming Coaches Foundation $2,500 for their July 14-20 All Star Week and Coach’s Clinic.
A total of $3,000 was granted for a FIRST Lego and a FIRST Tech Robotics event. Gamble said that the Council’s Grant Committee recommended funding these events because they brought in something different than sports.
“We do like the variety that it brings in,” she said.
Gamble explained during the meeting that the Grant Committee decided not to recommend allotting any funding for the Wyoming Shrine Bowl and Tribute to the Great American Cowboy, who both applied for grant funding.
She said that they weren’t recommending the Shrine Bowl for grant funding because proceeds from that event go toward the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Salte Lake City. Gamble said the committee thought the Council should support organizations who keep the money they raise in the local economy.
The Council also discussed Casper College’s grant application for their Sept. 15-16 T-Bird Trek event. Gamble said the Grant Committee recommended that this event be supported in the form of partnerships with Casper College.
Penton-Jones said during the meeting that the Grant Committee noticed a trend when listening to grant applicants present their requests.
“Venues going up in price, we heard that over and over again,” she said.
The Council discussed making efforts to prioritize which events they really want to support moving forward. Hawley and Council member Brad Murphy both said that the Council may have to make some hard decisions in the future about which events to support.
“We’ve got to be really careful about which ones we can lose or not,” Murphy said. “There are other events that could leave Casper if you don’t give them funding.”
He added that he thought the community should have a voice as to which events it really wants to keep in Casper.
“There needs to be a consensus in the community,” Murphy said.
“You can only do so much,” Hawley said. “Where as a business do you get the most bang for your buck?”