Q. Who is eligible to apply?
A. Small tourism-oriented businesses are eligible to apply if they promote other small businesses in their area and support shoulder season tourism travel (September 2022 to May 2023.) Up-to-date information on the grant programs can be found at www.vatc.org/grants.
Q. What do the grant funds cover?
A. The Microbusiness Marketing Leverage Program is only for eligible marketing expenses. A list of eligible and ineligible marketing expenses can be found in the program Terms and Conditions. The Special Events & Festivals Program that will open in early 2023 allows for some event production costs. Preliminary information on that program can be found at www.vatc.org/grants.
Q. Do we receive grant funds up-front?
A. No. This is a reimbursable grant where you would have to request reimbursement and submit proof of payment and proof of following the required elements as listed in the program Terms and Conditions.
Q. How will funding be awarded?
A. This is a competitive program so be sure to read all the documents before starting your application. We will not start reviewing any applications until September 21, so you have plenty of time to review the requirements and apply. Each application will be scored by a Grants Review Team with the highest scores receiving funding. In some cases, partial funding may be awarded.
Q. How many awards will you make?
A. We can fund approximately 150 applications in this round.
Q. Are non-profits able to apply for this grant?
A. Yes, if they meet the program criteria of marketing small businesses during the September 2022 to May 2023.
Q. When will the applications be reviewed/scored?
A. We will not start reviewing any applications until September 21st. Awards will be announced at the end of October.
Q. What does promotion of the tourism shoulder season mean?
A. The tourism shoulder season is from September 2022 to May 2023, when tourism travel typically decreases. Any programs that promote small businesses and tourist visitation during this season will be eligible to apply.
Q. I already placed some advertisements for the Fall travel season. Can I include those in my marketing plan for reimbursement?
A. Yes. Eligible marketing costs that you have incurred since June 1, 2022, AND that market small businesses/shoulder season travel are eligible for reimbursement. Be sure to include these in your marketing plan line items. Alternatively, you can count these in your in-kind match line item list.
Q. Who qualifies as a part-time or full-time employee?
A. Employees who average 35 hours per week or less would be considered .5 full-time equivalent. Employees who average 36 hours per week or more would be consider 1 full-time equivalent for this program. (Example: Jane works 32 hours a week and Susan works 42 hours a week. That equals 1.5 full-time equivalent jobs.)
Q. Can I apply if my event is after May 31, 2023?
A. No. This program is to drive visitation between September 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023. However, please take a look at the Marketing Leverage Program and the Special Events and Festivals Program information on www.vatc.org/grants. Those programs will open in early 2023 and may be a good fit for events after May 31, 2023.
Q. I own three small businesses. One location has 25 full-time employees, but the other two only have 10 full-time employees. Combined, I have 45 employees. Can I still apply?
A. Our programs are based on Federal Employer Identification # or Social Security # (if a sole proprietorship.) If you have more than 20 full-time equivalent employees associated with one FEI# then you are not eligible to apply. If you have 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees for an FEI#, you can apply for the location with that FEI#.
Q. Our Chamber of Commerce has more than 20 full-time employees, can we still apply?
A. Yes. Organizations, such as Main Street organizations, Planning District Commissions, and Chambers may apply if their application is focused on marketing small businesses and/or off-peak/shoulder season visitation.
Q. What does it mean that I must spend 25% of my award in an out-of-state market?
A. If you are requesting a $5,000 award, you must spend at least $1,250 targeting an out-of-state market. You may use digital media, social media, or other advertising venues, such as print newspaper and magazines.
Q. I have more than seven line items in my marketing plan. What should I do?
A. Because this is a microbusiness program with a smaller award maximum, we would like you to concentrate your marketing dollars on no more than seven marketing outlets/initiatives. Review your marketing plan and adjust so that you do not go over seven line items in your in-kind marketing plan or marketing plan.
Q. If I get funding in this Microbusiness Marketing Leverage Program round, can I still apply for the Early 2023 Marketing Leverage Program, Special Events & Festival Program and/or the DMO Marketing program?
A. Yes, but the early 2023 applications must be for new initiatives under those programs’ Terms and Conditions.
Q. I live in Virginia, but my business is based in Maryland. Can I still apply?
A. No. Businesses and organizations must be located in Virginia to apply.