New fund to help attract national and multi-state events to Michigan


State funding will help cities attract conventions and conferences to Michigan. Photo via

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has established a new fund to help attract national and multi-state events, conventions and conferences to the state.

MEDC said it expects the fund will help increase Michigan communities’ competitiveness against other states for these types of events, pointing out that it’s become common practice for organizers to require a monetary guarantee from potential hosts to demonstrate financial capability and commitment to host such an event.

The MEDC has committed $500,000 to the fund through the end of the current fiscal year, and $1 million in each of the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. The fund will be administered by the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau; however, all convention and visitor bureaus in Michigan will have the ability to apply for support in attraction efforts through the fund.

“We are joining with our local partners to raise Michigan’s profile as a destination for large events, such as national conferences, conventions and sporting events, while addressing the disadvantages they currently face in today’s competitive market,” said Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of the MEDC. “By bringing in large numbers of out-of-state visitors associated with these events we can help our travel industry grow while showcasing Michigan to a broad audience.”

Specific criteria have been established for an event to qualify for consideration for the attraction fund, including they be multi-state or national in scope, have regular attendance of more than 1,500 people, have a duration of at least two-and-a-half days and that they not have been hosted in Michigan during the previous calendar year. Additionally, at least 50 percent of the dollars expected to be spent in Michigan during the event must come from non-Michigan businesses or residents.

A committee is currently being established with representatives from several statewide destination marketing organizations to evaluate and recommend which projects meet the qualifications for these funds.

“While incentives have been a part of the bidding process for many groups in the past, it has now become common ground and most large national conventions and special events require some sort of subsidy to be awarded the business,” said Doug Small, president of Experience Grand Rapids. “We are thankful that the MEDC understands the value of visitor expenditures that bring new money into our state, which not only builds the tax base, but increases revenue for small businesses while retaining and creating jobs — pure economic development.”

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