CHIPLEY - Washington County Tourist Development Council is welcoming event organizers to take advantage of a new event advertising grant.

The reimbursable grant offers funding under two categories: signature event and special event. The former offers up to $3,000 and applies to multi-day events; the latter is for one-day events and offers up to $1,000. Applicants of both categories are eligible for three years of funding, with the first year offering up to the maximum amounts and decreasing in subsequent years. As a new grant, the grant is open to all, regardless of past TDC grant funding awards.

TDC Director Heather Lopez said the council is pleased to offer the grant because it gives event organizers more control over their own advertising.

"This opens it up for event organizers to be able to do advertising that they feel fits their events," she said. "Because some events are unique in the way they advertise themselves."

In the past, the TDC would do the marketing for the events. Not only was it time consuming, it did not allow freedom to tailor the advertising to the events. And due to payment limitations, social media was one aspect the TDC was unable to tap on behalf of organizers.

Lopez also touted the revised grant approval process.

"We decided to change the grant application to make it a more friendlier process and to allow more freedom for the event organizers to advertise their events and make it specific for the audiences they were trying to target," she said.

The main focus of the new application is on driving out-of-county tourists to the county. Organizers who apply for the grant will be required to provide an after-event report to prove that their event did actually drive tourists to the area. If the report does not satisfy the requirements, the applicant will be ineligible to apply for the following year, Lopez said.

The information is critical to the TDC's funding because the state's tourism and marketing arm Visit Florida requires it to approve its funding to its tourism entities.

"We're very happy to be able to offer this grant to the community," Lopez said. "Events are a big part of tourism here and they draw thousands of people to the county each year. And we want to do our part to supporting them and funding their advertising and marketing efforts."

The new grant application is available for pick up from the TDC office,  672 Fifth Street, or at www.visitwcfla.com.  If anyone should have additional questions about the grant process or eligibility, contact the TDC office at 850-658-4071 or director@visitwcfla.com.