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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2001

Governor Awards $400,000 in Grants to Support Major Tourism Events

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that three local organizations will share in over $400,000 in Tourism Private Sector Grants. The funds will assist the groups in hosting major national and international tourism events over the next year in Illinois.

"With these Tourism Private Sector funds, we will help sponsor varied events across the state such as figure skating, ballooning and Latvian heritage that will draw tourists from around the world," said Governor Ryan. "Last year more than $22 billion dollars was spent by domestic and international tourists and these events will help expose visitors to three different Illinois destinations."

The Tourism Private Sector Grant Program was created in 1994, and provides grants to match funds from the private sector for the purpose of attracting and hosting major tourism events such as conventions, trade shows, sporting activities and cultural events that significantly impact for the State of Illinois economy through overnight stays. The grant funds are administered through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA).

The grantees are the Danville Area Convention and Visitors' Bureau, which is organizing a new ballooning event to replace the Oldsmobile Classic; The DuPage Figure Skating Club, which is hosting the 2002 Junior National Figure Skating Championships; and the group organizing and hosting the 11th Latvian Song Festival in the United States, an event held every four years in the U.S.

"It's estimated that these three events will have an impact of over $12.8 million for the local and state economies," said DCCA Director Pam McDonough. "In addition to the financial benefits, hosting these major events sets the stage for attracting other world class programs to Illinois."

Since its inception, the Tourism Private Sector Grant Program has funded such major events as World Cup Soccer, the International Pow Wow '98, the 2000 National High School Rodeo Finals, and 2001: A Soccer Odyssey.

A list of the grant recipients and a more detailed description of the events is attached.

TOURISM PRIVATE SECTOR GRANT PROGRAM

FY01 Grant Awards

The 11th Latvian Song Festival in the United States, Inc. , Des Plaines, Cook County, received $165,120 to host the 11th Latvian Song Festival in the United States. This July 18-21, 2002 event will be held in the City of Chicago and is a "large-scale cultural arts event" including a wide range of musical performances, ensembles and combined choirs of hundreds of singers, a visual arts exhibition, a large folk-dancing competition and performances, theatrical performances, arts and crafts fair, and many ancillary activities for a variety of interest groups. The event is held only once every four years in a different city in the United States. The first festival was held in 1953 in Chicago. Since that time, the Latvian Song Festival has grown significantly, and its tradition has become one of the most effective vehicles for bringing together thousands of Americans who trace their ancestry to the northern European country of Latvia, which regained its independence 10 years ago after a half century of Soviet rule.

The Danville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Danville, Vermilion County, received $132,000 to host a new ballooning event in partnership with Gatineau, Ontario, Canada. This event is to replace the Oldsmobile Balloon Classic which Danville hosted for several years. Sponsorship was lost as a result of General Motors' decision to eliminate its Oldsmobile division.

The DuPage Figure Skating Club, Bensenville, DuPage County, received $125,000 to host the 2002 Junior National Figure Skating Championships that will be held on December 11-15, 2001 at Edge Arenas in Bensenville. This competition will feature more than 375 of the top Intermediate and Juvenile skaters from across the nation, competing for a total of eight U. S. titles. The number of skaters, coaches, parents and relatives anticipated to attend this five-day event is 1,830.


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