Lake Meridian Park is a popular destination in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent

Lake Meridian Park is a popular destination in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent

City of Kent awards lodging tax grants to promote business, leisure travel

Funds from state sales tax on hotel stays in town

Nine groups will receive a total of $330,000 in 2020 from the city of Kent’s lodging tax to help bring more business and leisure travel to town.

Seattle-based Barokas Communications, a public relations firm, received the largest award of $100,000 to target national and regional business publications to tell the Kent Valley story, highlight industries already here and encourage clustering of high job yield/high income industries, according to city documents.

The council hired Barokas in February for $100,000 to promote the Kent Valley and will renew that contract for next year.

“We are focusing on putting Kent on the map,” City Council President Bill Boyce said at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Nov. 12 when the council approved the grants. “There are a lot of good things going on.”

The city’s lodging tax is a 1 percent state tax on overnight hotel, motel, bed and breakfast and campground stays in Kent. State law dictates who is eligible to apply, and mandates the funds be used for marketing and promotion of business and leisure tourism. The city of Kent’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee recommended the grants to the council.

Tacoma-based JayRay, a public relations agency, received the second largest award at $90,000 to continue to run the website, a tourism marketing program.

A look at the rest of the grants:

■ $35,000 to Women in Manufacturing

A two-day summit in October at a site to be determined in Kent that targets local and out-of-area organizations and manufacturing companies and to support the groups at the corporate and individual level. Women in Manufacturing, based in Ohio with a chapter in Mukilteo, is a national trade association dedicated to providing year-round support to women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry, according to its website.

■ $30,000 to Aerospace Futures Alliance

Seattle-based group will host a space conference in Kent or Seattle in October to target the commercial space industry.

■ $25,000 to Kent-based Center for Advanced Manufacturing Puget Sound

Funds to help with Professional Manufacturing and Meetings Trade Show at accesso ShoWare Center and other venues on various dates.

■ $25,000 to Kent Chamber of Commerce

Tourism grant to promote Kent businesses and events utilizing video and other content distributed via chamber website and social media platforms.

■ $10,000 to Cajun Food & Music Festival

Kent Downtown Partnership applied for the grant to put on a one-day festival in August in the vicinity of Burlington Green Park and Railroad Avenue to celebrate Cajun food and music. Expected to draw 800 to 1,000 people. Altha’s Louisiana Cajun Seasoning & Spices in Kent will be a festival partner as owner Neil Robinson is from New Orleans.

■ $10,000 to Thurston Economic Development Council

Funds for Aerospace Industry Day on June 9 at site to be determined to showcase area suppliers (including those in Kent) to NASA and NASA prime contractors. The Thurston Economic Development Council is based in Lacey.

■ $5,000 to Northwest Athletic Conference golf tournament

The April 1 event at the city-owned Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent, hosted by Highline College, will feature up to 12 teams and 100 golfers. The Northwest Athletic Conference is a sports associated for community colleges in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.

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