WINCHESTER — The Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is in line to receive a share of $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money appropriated by the federal government to the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Justin Kerns, executive director of the CVB, told the Winchester-Frederick County Tourism Board on Thursday morning that he won’t know how much ARPA money the bureau will receive until Oct. 29.

“This could potentially be a big chunk of money,” Kerns said. “It’s wonderful news that we were not really expecting.”

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was adopted by Congress on March 10 to provide $350 billion to states and local governments to respond to the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Virginia Tourism Corporation received $50 million in ARPA funds, of which $30 million will be divided among 133 localities in the commonwealth to bolster local tourism initiatives.

“It’s taken a while for that money to trickle down,” Kerns said.

The amount of cash each locality receives, Kerns said, will be based on the amount of state taxes generated by tourism in each jurisdiction. Winchester and Frederick County are pretty much in the middle of the pack, collecting more than some Virginia communities but less than others.

A bonus for the local CVB is that is is funded by two local governments, Winchester and Frederick County. As a result, Kerns said, the CVB will receive ARPA money from each municipality.

Funds are intended to support new marketing initiatives to bolster local tourism and can be spent on things like print, broadcast and online advertising, video production, social media campaigns and targeted promotions. Money cannot be used for administrative costs or existing expenses.

Once the local CVB learns how much ARPA money it will receive, Kerns said he will have until Dec. 31 to submit a plan for spending the cash. About half of the money could be awarded to the bureau as early as January, but the remaining amount would be paid over the next two years in the form of reimbursements for enacting items contained in the spending plan.

All of the ARPA money must be used by June 30, 2024.

Kerns asked the Tourism Board to come up with a “wish list” of items that could be funded by the ARPA allocation. He’ll gather those suggestions at the board’s next meeting on Nov. 18 and integrate as many of them as possible into the spending plan to be submitted to the state by the year’s end.

For more information about the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau, visit visitwinchesterva.com.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

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