QUINCY — Local organizations hoping to bring conventions and events to Quincy will now be able to receive a grant from the Quincy Civic Center Authority and Quincy Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The grants range from $500 to $2,000 and will be awarded based on the number of hotel and motel rooms booked in Quincy for the event.
"If you are a Rotary Club, Exchange Club or church group, or something that wants to bring something on a statewide level to the community, then your organization has to do some legwork to host that event," said Rob Ebbing, Oakley-Lindsay Center executive director. "We want to incentivize those groups to encourage them to bring those kinds of events here."
Ebbing said the convention center's governing board plans to award up to $5,000 per year in the grant program. The Quincy Civic Center Authority, which is the governing body for the convention center, also offers larger grants of up to $5,000 for large-scale events.
The grant program, started in 2015, has awarded more than $50,000 to 19 different conventions, conferences and events.
Ebbing said collectively those events have brought an estimated 17,000 people to Quincy, who booked more than 6,800 hotel rooms.
The grant program is financed by a portion of the city's hotel and motel occupancy tax.
The QLC board on Thursday approved two $5,000 grants for two upcoming events.
In April, the city will serve as the backdrop for a 10-week baseball tournament, scheduled to go through July. Each week the tournament is in Quincy, Ebbing said officials are anticipating that players and their families will book about 400 hotel rooms throughout the city.
The board also approved a grant for the Illinois Association of Court Clerks, which will have its annual meeting in September. Officials are anticipating those attending will need more than 360 hotel rooms.
Quincy Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Holly Cain said both events are welcome.
"I am really excited about both events, especially the Q-town Tournaments because as a parent of a child on a traveling sports team I know oftentimes other siblings and grandparents come along for those weekends," Cain said. "And with so many weekends, there is just so much potential to grow this event."
Cain added that her experience in tourism tells her that Quincy has much to gain each time first-time travelers come to the city.
"We know there is a very high likelihood that they will come back, and maybe bring a spouse or a group of friends," Cain said. "Events like the Illinois Association of Court Clerks conference will bring a lot of people to Quincy and really puts Quincy on the map for them."
Ebbing agreed, saying, "As we have tried to send information throughout the state about bringing events to Quincy, what we have found is that it can be a little tough to lure (events) out of Chicago or Springfield. What we have found is that a lot of the events that we are getting are coming here because they have some kind of a Quincy connection."
Those interested in applying for the grants can call the Oakley-Lindsay Center business office at 217-223-1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ebbing said the applications will be reviewed and approved quarterly.
He said he hopes the grants encourage local groups to reconsider how they can bring an event or conference to Quincy.
"Somebody may be on the bubble about something that they have always wanted to do; I hope this encourages them to try to bring it here," Ebbing said. The grants will be awarded after the event, once the convention center receives an occupancy report from the city's hoteliers.