The Harford County government administration recently announced the award of more than $1.5 million in grants to local nonprofit organizations to plan and implement tourism-related activities, including historical, cultural, agricultural, heritage and eco-tourism operations.
Funding for the grants comes from the county’s 6 percent tax on hotel and motel room rentals implemented by Harford County Executive Barry Glassman in March 2015.
The competitive grant award process is in its fourth consecutive year, and the latest funding will be available during the 2019 fiscal year beginning July 1, according to a news release from the county executive’s office.
The program stimulates economic activity and strengthens attractions enjoyed by tourists and residents alike, according to the news release.
“With revenue generated from visitors to Harford County, our program supports activities that are good for business and improve the quality of life for everyone,” Glassman said in the news release. “I am proud that over the past four years we have directed more than $6 million to our nonprofit museums, arts programs and other attractions that bring people together and make Harford County a great place to be.”
On average, the hotel tax produces approximately $3.1 million in revenue.
“For FY18, the hotel/lodging fee revenue is tracking similar to last year,” Cindy Mumby, spokesperson for the administration, said via email last week. “So, we expect to bring in approximately $3,115,000, with the county keeping $2.4 million, Aberdeen receiving $675,000 and Havre de Grace receiving $40,000.”
Under the county law that set up the lodging tax, the two municipal governments receive 50 percent of the tax collecting from hotels and motels within their borders.
To be eligible for grant funding, nonprofits must be 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) organizations.
The Harford County Office of Community & Economic Development oversees the competitive funding application process that was open earlier this year from mid-January to mid-April.
The office held two workshops to answer questions from interested organizations and to assist with the application process.
According to the news release, the workshops focused on three critical criteria that enhanced eligibility: organizations must be in good standing with the state; programs or activities must be able to draw visitors from outside the borders of Harford County; and the extent to which their successful implementation depends on receiving funding.
The Harford County Tourism Advisory Review Committee reviews all applications and makes recommendations to the county executive, who has the final decision on which organizations receive funds.
“Recommendations are made to serve the greatest number of recipients while focusing on organizational accountability and sustainability,” the news release states.
This year’s funding recipients have been sent a notification letter from Glassman announcing their award amount. An award package from OCED will follow with guidelines for executing a memorandum of agreement, quarterly performance and budget reporting templates and procedures for receiving funding. Once packet materials are fully executed, funds will be made available after July 1.
Nonprofit organizations receiving contributions for FY 2019 are listed below:
APG Centennial Celebration Association Inc. (APG Discovery Center) - $40,000 to execute operational aspects of Phase 1 of the APG Discovery Center planning;
Bel Air Downtown Alliance - $45,000 in general operating support for special events in Downtown Bel Air;
Bel Air Recreation Committee Inc. - $8,500 toward marketing efforts for the Bel Air Arts Show;
Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County, Maryland Inc. - $21,500 for operations and marketing for the Catch A Pig 5K Run and Harford’s Hardest 5K;
Chesapeake Heritage Conservancy Inc. - $15,000 to market the Skipjack Martha Lewis;
Community Projects of Havre de Grace (The Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation) — $30,000 for operations and marketing for multiple programs;
Darlington Apple Festival Inc. - $25,000 for event operations;
Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse Incorporated - $18,000 for operations and signage;
Harford Artists' Association Inc. - $4,000 for operations;
Harford Community College Foundation Inc. - $35,000 for expanded event marketing;
Harford County Farm Fair Inc. - $45,000 for fair operations;
Havre de Grace Alliance Inc. - $38,000 for operations;
Havre de Grace Arts Collective Inc. - $15,000 for operations and marketing;
Havre de Grace Decoy Museum Inc. - $80,000 for operations and marketing;
Havre de Grace Maritime Museum Inc. - $35,000 for operations;
Highland Community Association Inc. - $50,000 for operations and marketing;
Hosanna Community House Incorporated - $45,000 for operations for multiple events;
Maryland Center for the Visual and Performing Arts Inc. - $50,000 for operations and marketing;
Rockfield Foundation Incorporated - $25,000 for operations, outreach and signage;
Soroptimist International of Havre de Grace Inc. - $5,000 for the Havre de Grace Arts Show;
Steppingstone Museum Association Inc.- $50,000 for operations and programs;
Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace Inc. - $35,000 for Lock House operations;
Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra Inc. - $25,000 for operations and outreach;
Susquehannock Wildlife Society Inc. - $55,000 for operations;
The Historical Society of Harford County Inc. - $40,000 for operations;
The Liriodendron Foundation Inc. - $70,000 for operations and outreach;
The Trustees of The Ladew Topiary Gardens Inc. - $55,000 for operations and outreach;
Visit Harford! Inc. - $595,000 for operations and outreach.
Visit Harford! is the quasi-public tourism agency Glassman’s administration established after Glassman took office in late 2014.