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Rothschild taking “wait and see” approach as Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau works out a contract with Wausau

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 7:22 PM CDT
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ROTHSCHILD, Wis. (WSAW) - With the announcement of $140 million in tourism and entertainment grants becoming available for Wisconsin businesses and organizations, municipalities are looking forward to marketing strategies. However, for some Wausau area municipalities, how they plan is looking a little different than before the pandemic.

The grant money is being allotted for specific types of tourism and entertainment sectors.

  • $75 million for lodging grants;
  • $11.25 million for movie theaters;
  • $12 million for live event small businesses;
  • $2.8 million for minor league sports teams;
  • $10 million for live venues;
  • $15 million for destination marketing organizations;
  • $8 million for summer camps;
  • $1 million for the Wisconsin Historical Society to assist in reopening historical sites; and
  • $7.5 million to increase marketing support for Wisconsin’s tourism industry.

The American Rescue Plan Act is the source of the grant money and will be distributed by the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the Department of Revenue. To receive more information about the tourism grants and to apply, click here.

The Village of Rothschild’s tourism and marketing director, Leanna Holzem, said they are passing along the grant information to its business and organizations that would likely be able to apply. She said they are still reviewing the eligibility for the grant money, but will also apply if eligible.

Holzem said she is excited to be able to do the work she loves again and have live events back on the calendar.

“Being able to finally get to talk to event organizers and companies again about the idea of bringing back in-person events is such a huge refreshing relief for me considering the last year, no one wanted to talk about it and I don’t blame them,” she expressed.

Going forward to bring people to Rothschild and central Wisconsin, she said she is working closely with the Hmong American Center to bring more cultural events to Rothschild. She said she is looking to shake up the events happening in the village, including working with the convention center to bring more live concerts there.

They also are partnering with other municipalities to market events because she said “when one area thrives, we all thrive.” Tourism started to pick up for this hotel hub in January, with Holzem crediting Granite Peak’s successful draw to the area.

However, partnering will look a little different for many municipalities in the Wausau area after Rothschild, Wausau, and Weston ended their contracts with the Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2020, in part due to controversies with its former executive director.

Rothschild village administrator, Gary Olsen, said they wanted certainty with their marketing and tourism direction and they wanted to ensure the convention center, the big highlight of the area for Rothschild, was utilized to its full potential to also benefit other area businesses. The village still works closely with other municipalities and noted they have a close relationship with Mosinee’s tourism organization. He said they are on good terms with the remaining staff at the CVB and met with them earlier this week, but is not planning to sign a contract with the organization at this time.

“They’ve been sending us some leads and we’ve been working together, so it’s not like everything is broke (sic) there it’s just, right now we might not have a contract with them and just kind of waiting to see what all shakes out with the organization,” Olsen said.

The CVB is currently contracted with Schofield and Rib Mountain. CVB board president, Brian Schulz said he has been working with Wausau and Weston to come to contract agreements. Wausau is formulating a mediated contract agreement with the CVB, but Schulz said attorneys need to review the contract and then have it go to the full board. He said he has not made a contract agreement with Weston, but is hopeful they will also come back on.

Minutes from Rothschild’s tourism committee meeting in January note the CVB also tried to mediate with the village, but the committee declined the request.

Schulz said they will continue to promote the sporting opportunities in the Wausau area, but is open to looking at other tourism avenues to benefit more businesses. He is hopeful the agreement with Wausau will come together quickly and that the other municipalities will sign on too to create a unified effort for tourism and marketing.

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