Catgut Paddle Receives Travel Wisconsin JEM Grant

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La Crosse Races to First Year Of Catgut Paddle With Help From Tourism Grant
Press Release From Wisconsin Department of Tourism

The City of La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry is inviting outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy its first ever Catgut Paddle with help from a $5,000 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Catgut Paddle features a 14-mile canoe and kayak race and 4-mile family-friendly paddle. The event is set to take place July 22, 2017 at Veterans Freedom Park in La Crosse. Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett presented the JEM grant check to the City of La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry at Veterans Freedom Park on Monday, May 22.

“This project clearly demonstrates that funding tourism marketing initiatives produces a sound return on investment for the local economy,” Governor Walker said. “Tourism is part of Wisconsin’s economic foundation and its continued growth is a priority for my administration because of the nearly 193,500 jobs it supports, the tax revenues it generates and the positive image it projects for the State.”

In addition to the paddle races, Catgut Paddle will include stand up paddleboard (SUP) yoga, guided birding paddles, and canoe/kayaking safety clinics. The event grounds will also host yard games, a food truck court, live music and KidZone. Grant funds will go toward online, print and broadcast advertising. The event is expected to generate an estimated $32,500 in visitor spending in the La Crosse community.

“With its placement along the Mississippi River, La Crosse is a great destination to host a paddle-themed event,” said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. “We’re excited to be a part of the first-ever Catgut paddle event, which will highlight the area’s natural resources while creating a positive economic impact.”

In 2016, the tourism economy in Wisconsin totaled $20 billion, a 3.5 percent increase from 2015. Since 2010, tourism activity in the state added 21,500 jobs to the economy, a 12.4% increase in travel and hospitality employment opportunities for Wisconsin residents. Visitors generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue. Wisconsin taxpayers would need to pay $650 per household in order to maintain current government services. Total Business sales in La Crosse County reached over $405 million in 2016, supporting 4,274 jobs and $31.6 million in state and local taxes.

“On behalf of City of La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry, we’re excited to bring this paddling event to the area. This is an opportunity to have locals and folks from all over come to La Crosse to enjoy our rivers,” stated La Crosse Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jay Odegaard. “Pro racers can join the 14-mile race or families, first-timers, and groups of friends can do the 4-mile paddle. Plus, spectators can stay on-shore and enjoy other activities. There’s really something for everyone. We expect this event to have a regional draw and to continue to grow each year. The funding from the JEM Grant will really help us market outside of the La Crosse area to ensure the success of our inaugural year.”

In fiscal 2016, the Department funded 57 JEM projects, awarding a total of more than $1.1 million. Visitor expenditures driven by the marketing from these projects will exceed $31 million. JEM grant funds are available to non-profit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project’s first-year advertising and marketing costs, and provide support for second- and third-year projects with decreasing amounts for funding until projects become self-sustaining. For information on the JEM Program and application materials, visit Travel Wisconsin’s website.

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the State as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at:

Above Photo: Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Klett (left) presents a $5,000 JEM grant to City of La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry.

Kristina LeVan
Wisconsin Department of Tourism

Jay Odegaard, Superintendent
City of La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry

Participants can register for the 1st annual Catgut Paddle races and events today! For event updates, fans can like the Catgut Paddle Facebook page.