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City of Roseburg postpones tourism grant program

City officials said revenue is down because fewer people are staying in Roseburg.

Posted: Oct 27, 2020 5:42 PM
Updated: Oct 28, 2020 9:55 AM

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The City of Roseburg has postponed their tourism grant program this fall due to COVID-19.

Grants are normally handed out to businesses and organizations that need funding for large events they're hosting or new projects for the city. The projects and events must be able to attract tourism to the area.

City officials said they hand out $250,000 in total for the fall and spring. They said businesses can apply up to $5,000 in each cycle. The money comes out of the city’s hotel/motel tax, which takes 8% from visitors staying in the city.

However, they said revenue is down because fewer people are staying in Roseburg.

“(It was) way below what was estimated to be projected in tax collections,” said communications specialist Eric Johnson. “So, we had to make a hard decision based off of that.”

Previous recipients told KEZI 9 News that they completely understand why the city made the decision to postpone the program.

They said it is already tough enough to get tourists into the city due to COVID-19.

“In terms of bringing people, I think it’s too risky,” said Susie Johnston-Forte, executive director of the Roseburg Town Center. “And too scary.”

However, others said they’re disappointed because of how much the grants have helped them over the years.

Keri Kovach-Roid, the owner of Growing Miracles Lavender Garden, hosts the Lavender Festival every summer. She said the grant was a huge help to her this year.

“That paid for the vast majority of our advertising this year, which really, really saved the festival,” said Kovach-Roid.

Johnson said the city plans to reevaluate the tax in the spring.

If enough money comes in, they want to restart the program.

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