Joel Brennan in Eau Claire
During a press conference in downtown Eau Claire Thursday, Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan discusses more than $140 million in grants to help the state's entertainment and tourism sectors recover from the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Julian Emerson)

American Rescue Plan Act funding would aid industries among those most impacted by the pandemic.

Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday announced more than $140 million in grants to Wisconsin’s tourism and entertainment sectors, industries among the most adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding, made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act and administered by the state departments of administration and revenue, will go to live event venues, movie theaters, hotels, summer camps, and minor league sports. Additional money will be used to reopen the state’s historical sites and market the tourism industry. 

While some entertainment and tourism businesses are beginning to rebound financially, that recovery likely will be relatively slow, state Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan said during a press conference to announce the grants at Micon Downtown Budget Cinema in Eau Claire. 

“There are small businesses that while they are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, that recovery is going to be slow,” Brennan said. “We need to make sure we are investing in those places and to recognize those that will be slower to recover.”

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Included in funding is $75 million for hotels, $15 million for tourism marketing, $12 million for live event small businesses, and $11.25 million for movie theaters. The grant application process should begin in a couple of weeks, Brennan said. 

The grants will help entertainment and tourism-related businesses rebound from challenges brought about by the pandemic, Evers said in a news release.

“Whether it’s an urban or a rural destination, these investments will help make sure that local venues and businesses come out of this pandemic ready to welcome folks from communities around Wisconsin and across the country,” he said.