Eastern Shore Tourism Businesses Receive Nearly $600,000 in Grant Funding

by Ryan Miller

Businesses of Virginia's Eastern Shore have received a total of $589,428 in grant funding and financing in recent months in different industries to bring visitors to the area.

Virginia Tourism Corporation's Marketing Leverage Program gave a grant to Chatham Vineyards of $21,000 in August of 2016 to market Virginia Wine and Brine, a series of events held in November that celebrate the region's wine and oysters.

Additionally, craft breweries are benefitting from grants, as Black Narrows Brewing Company received $11,000 in January from the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, matching local funds from Accomack County. As a result, Black Narrows will create five new jobs and invest over $350,000 in a new brewery in Chincoteague, sourcing 72 percent of its agricultural products from Virginia farmers. In April, Cape Charles Brewing Company also received $500,000 in gap financing through Virginia's Industrial Revitalization Fund. "It helps to bridge the gap with our total [2 million] investment," said Mark Marshall of Cape Charles Brewing Company. As a result the funds will be repaid after their use to create the production brewery and brewpub.

Tourism Development Specialist Staci Marti of Virginia Tourism Corporation added, "The Eastern Shore, with its important agricultural and ecological resources, is perfectly positioned to capitalize on craft beer as a means to grow agri-tourism and eco-tourism. This is definitely a game-changer for the region."

Marketing Leverage Program also gave a grant of 5,000 to Experimental Film Virginia and partners Lemon Tree Gallery and Studio as well as The Oyster Farm to promote their event series known as Cape Charles Art Soaked Weekends during July, which includes live music performances, art workshops, food and films. Art programs on the Eastern Shore also received grant funds from the state, including $2,500 in April to Friends of the Historic Onancock School for the Shore Made Music Festival. The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities received a grant of $49,928 in April to create a web-based catalog of Eastern Shore history.

According to the Virginia Tourism Commission, the Eastern Shore is currently the second fastest-growing tourism region in Virginia.

For more on how tourism effects business in Coastal Virginia, visit here.

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