The PC EDC received a JEM Grant check of $13,144 for the Pierce County Tourism Brand Study from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The presentation was made at Vino in the Valley on Saturday, December 8. Photo by Paul J. Seeling
The PC EDC received a JEM Grant check of $13,144 for the Pierce County Tourism Brand Study from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The presentation was made at Vino in the Valley on Saturday, December 8. Photo by Paul J. Seeling

By Paul J. Seeling, Gateway News, with Julie Fox, Wisconsin Department of Tourism

MAIDEN ROCK, WI – The Pierce County Economic Development Corporation (PC EDC) is launching a research project to identify the county’s tourism brand with help from a $13,144 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

The check presentation was made by Julie Fox, Regional Tourism Specialist from Wisconsin Department of Tourism to Joe Folsom, Executive Director of the PC EDC on Saturday, December 8, 2018 at the beautiful popular tourist destination of Vino in the Valley in Pierce County. There were a number of invited guests to join in the presentation that included representatives from PC EDC, Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce, City of Prescott, as well as Larry Brenner the owner of Vino in the Valley, Rep. Petryk and others.  It was a good crowd and nice representation for the county!

Data collected from the project will help Pierce County establish a new brand and develop marketing materials to attract travelers to the area.

“We are excited to support Pierce County in their efforts to create a new branding strategy using surveys that comes directly from visitors,” said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett.

The research study, which began in early December, will reveal the tourism assets that are unique to the area and how visitor perceptions align with current marketing efforts. The study will also help the Pierce County Economic Development Corporation make recommendations about branding, marketing and development opportunities. Surveys will collect data from local stakeholders, current visitors and potential visitors. Grant funds will go towards research costs related to the study.

“This JEM grant will enable our community to identify and develop marketing strategies and plans to effectively develop, promote, and grow our tourism and agritourism assets,” said Joe Folsom, Executive Director of the PC EDC.

In 2017, the tourism economy in Wisconsin totaled $20.6 billion, a 3.2 percent increase from 2016. Tourism activity supports 195,255 jobs in Wisconsin, a seven-year addition of more than 23,255 jobs to the state’s total employment, an increase of 13.5 percent. Visitors generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue. Business sales in Pierce County reached $53.4 million, supporting 436 jobs and more than $3.3 million in state and local taxes.

In fiscal 2018, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism funded 56 JEM projects, awarding a total of more than $1.1 million. Visitor expenditures driven by the marketing from these projects will exceed $74 million. JEM grant funds are available to non-profit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project's first-year advertising and marketing costs and provide support for second- and third-year projects with decreasing amounts for funding until projects become self-sustaining. For information on the JEM Program and application materials, visit industry.travelwisconsin.com.

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the State as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The portal for traveler information can be found at travelwisconsin.com.

One of the most successful agritourism destinations in Pierce County is Vino in the Valley. There was a big crowd of tourist guests there last Saturday who came from all over the region out to chat with Santa, enjoy a tasty hot pizza or a big pile of delicious nachos from the Vino brick oven. There were cookies for the kids to decorate and plenty of hot chocolate and cold beverages too. There were horse drawn wagon rides provided by Angie Rud owner of Star Belgians of El Paso to tour the spectacular grounds of Vino in the Valley along the beautiful Rush River.

Guests could also pick out and purchase a beautiful fresh cut Christmas tree from Rush River Tree Farm a sister agritourism company with Vino in the Valley.

Congratulations to the PC EDC on the award of the JEM grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism!