Evers uses pandemic funds to invest in Northwoods tourism

KBJR 6 News at 6pm
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 7:53 PM CST
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HAYWARD, WI -- Governor Tony Evers visited Hayward Wednesday as part of his Tourism Capital Grant Program.

The program supplies grant money to infrastructure projects within the state’s tourism industry.

“Tourism in the state of Wisconsin is a really big deal. Millions and millions of dollars are brought into our state every single year. Northern Wisconsin, Hayward is a perfect example of that,” said Evers.

Evers toured the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, which received a grant of just over $40,000 to help pay for recent carpet renovations.

The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation also received a grant of more than $750,000 to help pay for future additions to their properties.

“We’re able to get this grant, put it to work with things like ski trails, mountain biking trails, hiking trails, observation towers, biathlon ranges. It’s all really cool stuff that’ll draw people here,” said Ben Popp, Executive Director of the Birkie Foundation.

Evers said the grant program began as a way to help tourism groups through the pandemic.

“It’s born out of the pandemic but it’s also a way for us to reinforce how important tourism is to our state,” he said.

The grants are funded by money from the American Rescue Plan.

Evers hopes by investing in these groups now, they can bolster the industry for years to come.

“We want to make sure we’re not just keeping things the same but actually improving as we go along and making our tourism industry stronger than ever,” he said.

Popp believes that goal also benefits Wisconsin’s locals.

“At the end of the day they spend money here, it drives our economy, and we as the locals get to use it every day,” said Popp.

Hayward was the second and final stop on the Governor’s Wednesday trip.

He also visited Green Bay earlier in the day.

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