Carmel, IND. - Hamilton County attractions, festivals, sports organizations or communities may apply for a share of $70,000 in grant funds through the Destination: Hamilton County 8 Great Towns Grant Program, the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau announced today.

The grant program targets non-profit organizations that host local residents for their activities and also work to attract out-of-area visitors. The grants support operations, special projects, festivals, events or special marketing and promotions.

Applicants must justify how the proposed grant supports tourism development in Hamilton County. An application and grant details are available at 8GreatTowns.com/grants. The deadline for applications is January 31, 2013.

Past grants have supported projects large and small including:  ball field development for tournament play, operating grants for major attractions, marketing and promotions for theater seasons, a chili cook-off, a national vocal competition and signage detailing Westfield's Quaker roots and connection to the Underground Railroad.

Groups that don't fit the requirements for this grant may be interested in two additional grant programs. Hamilton County Sports Authority, a division of the Hamilton County CVB, offers a separate grant program to attract out-of-area sports-related events. Details are available at 317-660-4041. A new arts-focused grant for the Nickel Plate Arts initiative, which runs from Fishers to Atlanta, will be announced in February.

The Hamilton County CVB operates using lodging taxes collected by the county's hoteliers on almost 3,000 hotel rooms. These funds feed tourism's economic development impact on the community and support community development initiatives.

The Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau promotes tourism growth through strategic marketing, hospitality and community development initiatives. It has welcome centers in Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville.

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