SCVA and other Tourism Promotion Agencies across NYS are in a battle to save the local aid to localities funding that you may know better as the I Love NY Matching Funds Program. This is not to be confused with this year’s Sullivan County Catskills local matching funds program.
The I Love NY funding is the funding that the SCVA organization uses to promote its members and the tourism industry of Sullivan County outside of the county. The trade and travel shows, NY Times Show, Westchester Golf Show, American Bus Marketplace, etc., are funded through this. The advertising done in NYC, NJ, PA, CN, and MA as well as the international markets are all funded through the I Love NY Matching Funds Program.
SCVA and the Tourism Promotion Agencies across the State are not asking for additional funds. We all realize that cuts need to be made, however, this funding is there and it is being taken by the executive branch of Empire State Development and wasted on a State website that is dysfunctional at best and TV ads that will probably be as bad if not worse than the recent lottery ads.
PLEASE CALL OR WRITE YOUR LOCAL STATE LEGISLATORS AND TELL THEM WHAT LOSING THESE FUNDS WILL MEAN TO YOUR BUSINESS AND THE TOURISM INDUSTRY OF THE SULLIVAN COUNTY CATSKILLS .
SAMPLE MATCHING FUNDS LETTER
TO LOCAL LEGISLATORS
When I wrote you last month concerning delay in the 2009-2010 Matching Funds grants and the 2010-2011 Governor’s recommended budget, we feared that both the Division of Budget and the Governor’s office were actively working to submarine the legislatively mandated Matching Funds programs.
We were wrong! Sadly, the culprit is the Empire State Development Corp. which administers the Matching Funds program. I am attaching a copy of Empire State Development’s letter advising the State’s Tourism Promotion Agencies that the “Matching Grant Program has been cancelled.” It is canceling a program that is not theirs to cancel. And, ESD openly admits that it is taking the funds for its own programming, despite the fact that it was the legislature more than 30 years ago which spelled out exactly how the money was to be used. To quote Peter Davidson, executive director of ESD, in an e-mail to at least one TPA: “Part of the reason to eliminate matching funds was to make sure that there are sufficient funds to invest in both the launch of the new ILNY web site and, most importantly, to create and air a new ILNY TV ad. So those two tourism marketing initiatives are definitely still in the budget.”
Despite many more millions available over the past three years, ESD has not aired one second of TV advertising; despite having a two-year-old fully functional website, ESD went out and spent a reported $800,000 to develop a new website that just went haltingly on-line; despite the pleas of the industry, ESD elected two years ago to stop printing a Statewide travel guide and is only now planning the limited printing of a statewide guide.
In the past four years, the only sustained print advertising program promoting the vacation opportunities of New York State has been that coordinated by the NYS TPA Council and individual efforts by the State’s counties and Regions.
In short, the 684,000 New Yorkers who make up the State’s travel/tourism industry desperately need your help, and quickly. (Insert name of your county) travel and tourism industry, which in 2008 generated $ (insert state and local taxes generated in your county) in state and local taxes and employed (insert number of employees from your county) county residents, is facing a crisis of potentially catastrophic proportions.
Slightly less than 12 months ago, the State legislature passed the 2009-2010 State budget that contained $4.3 million in matching funds to promote travel/tourism to the State’s counties and regions. That money was later reduced to $4.1 million because of the State’s deteriorating fiscal condition. We accepted that reduced level because we agreed that everyone had to do their part. Those dollars were due to be released no later than January 1, 2010. As you are aware, they never came. ESD, however, continued to demand that potential recipients complete marketing plans and acquire the needed commitment letters from county legislatures. It demanded rigid adherence to Matching Funds rules, regulations and deadlines.
And, now it is obvious that Empire State Development never intended to meet its commitment; that it rejects its role as good stewards of the legislature’s programs.
Those funds are desperately needed if we are to promote our visitor amenities. In our specific case, (Insert name of your county) built its marketing program on the assumption that the money would be available, and within a reasonable time after we submitted our vouchers and they were approved. This is the time of the year when we contract advertising based on the assumption the State will meet its obligation, as we meet ours. Sadly, that is not the case.
As a result, (Insert name of your organization) faces the possibility of literally having to shut down or drastically reduce our promotional programs and operations if the commitment of Matching Funds dollars is not forth coming in a relatively short time. This is the investment that generates local and state taxes.
Anything your office can do to get Empire State Development to recognize its obligation to the law would be greatly appreciated. A phone call or visit to Assemblyman Steve Englebright, chair of the Assembly Tourism, Arts & Sports Development, advising him of your displeasure with ESD’s actions would be of great assistance. Direct communication with Messrs. Dennis Mullen and Peter Davidson would be even better.
The continued employment of (number of people employed in tourism in your county) of your constituents depends on the timely commitment and availability of these funds. Please don’t let them down.