MADISON, WI (May 15, 2020) – Today, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism awarded $481,100 in Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grants. JEM grants provide partnership funding to help nonprofit Wisconsin organizations promote tourism, including 501(c)(6) organizations such as Convention and Visitor Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce that were not earmarked for relief and may not qualify for certain loan programs in the federal CARES Act.

“Wisconsin’s tourism economy was one of the earliest and hardest hit by COVID-19,” said Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney. “In light of lost local travel promotion marketing revenue, Travel Wisconsin worked swiftly to pivot resources toward directly supporting our industry partners’ immediate needs. These shifts enabled timely, relevant, and strategic use of funds to collaboratively empower our local and regional partners to fuel the recovery. These important programs provide needed support for tourism entities to lift their communities and the whole of our industry as quickly as possible.” 

Given the uncertainties caused by the public health emergency, the administrative rules guiding the JEM grant program could have prevented the timely promotion of Wisconsin tourism destinations once public health professionals determine travel is once again advisable. They also could have prevented promotional work during the summer season, which could be the best first option for tourism entities to jumpstart visitation. However, Governor Evers declared a temporary change to these provisions, allowing the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to strategically direct funds to best support the statewide tourism industry.

Additionally, the Department of Tourism introduced two Co-Op partnership opportunities to further support non-profit organizations. JEM Grant recipients can apply grant funding to an exclusive co-op marketing program to be included in and leveraged through Travel Wisconsin’s marketing campaign. Non-grant recipients also have the opportunity to participate in an exclusive co-op marketing program where every dollar invested is matched by the Department of Tourism at a minimum rate of 1:1. Both co-op programs will further destination awareness through marketing and publicity efforts, supported by research and branding support, to attract visitors from around the state, Midwest and beyond.

Joint Effort Marketing Grant Recipients:

Celebrating and Growing Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s Kubb Culture  - $15,000

Central Wisconsin COVID-19 Recovery, Visit Marshfield - $39,550

Come Out and Play! Driftless Wisconsin - $39,910

Dream Now, Travel Later, Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitor Bureau - $39,000

Experience the Urban Outdoors of Greater Madison, Destination Madison - $35,250

Fall in Love with the Byway, Forest County Economic Development Partnership - $21,000

Grant County Driftless Re-Boot, Grant County Tourism Council - $10,000

Lake Superior & Apostle Islands on Chequamegon Bay, Bayfield Chamber & Visitors Bureau - $38,050

Mammoth Hike Challenge, Ice Age Trail Alliance - $39,525

Scenic HWY 42 – More Than A Route… A Destination, Manitowoc Area Visitor and Convention Bureau - $9,578

Sledding in Sawyer County: A Snowmobile Friendly Community, Hayward Lakes VCB - $16,225

Sports Milwaukee Brand Development, Visit Milwaukee - $20,847

Wausau/Central WI: Wisconsin’s winter Playground, Wausau/Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau - $39,500

WeLoveTheNorthWoods Northwoods of Wisconsin COVID-19 Regional Marketing Campaign, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce - $39,550

Getaway to Janesville, Wisconsin’s Great Outside, Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau - $7,700

The WashCo Outdoor Experience Sales Promotion, Washburn County Tourism Association - $20,500

Welcome Back to Wisconsin’s Great River Road, Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission - $20,000

East Troy Lights, East Troy Area Chamber of Commerce - $19,225

Coon Creek Canoe Race, Coon Valley Business Association - $10,176

Family Fall Fest, Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce - $10,514

In fiscal year 2020, the Department funded 52 JEM projects, awarding $1,154,904 million statewide, with estimated visitor expenditures driven by the marketing from these projects at $206 million. Joint Effort Marketing 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

Tourism is an important pillar of Wisconsin’s economy and the industry saw its biggest year in at least a decade in 2019. Over 113.2 million visits statewide generated an estimated $22.2 billion, including $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue.  The tourism industry supports 202,217 full- and part-time jobs in Wisconsin and last year, the state achieved a return on investment of $8 in tax revenue per $1 promotional spend.