A variety of Summit County attractions and venues — including a planned downtown Akron movie theater, a miniature golf course, and the tiny, picturesque village of Peninsula — are getting a financial boost.
The Summit County Convention & Visitors Bureau has revived a program that channels a small portion of revenues from Summit County’s bed tax to nonprofit and for-profit entities involved with tourism.
The bureau has awarded more than $49,000 in grants to 16 organizations and businesses, with the goal of “bolstering what we have to offer” to attract tourists, said Jim Mahon, bureau director of marketing and communication.
The Destination Development grants, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, will help pay for everything from brochures to a movie theater marquee.
The Akron Film+Pixel nonprofit group got $3,500 to help pay for the marquee for the planned downtown theater.
The Stonehedge Family Fun Center on Cuyahoga Falls Avenue in Akron got $1,500 toward sprucing up its par-72 miniature golf course.
The Peninsula Chamber of Commerce got $5,000 toward a proposed visitors kiosk in Peninsula. The village is a stop for many visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Diane Seskes, with the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Log Cabin Gallery in the village, said the kiosk would serve as a mini-information center and feature maps along with information about attractions, businesses and special events.
The plan is to install it in the village’s downtown, perhaps near the depot for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, behind the Winking Lizard Restaurant off state Route 303, she said. The depot serves as a park visitor center but the hours are limited.
The idea for a kiosk has been discussed for years, Seskes said, and the grant will finally make it a reality.
“We have so many people who come here” because of the national park and the railroad, Seskes said. “We might as well help them see what they can do that day.”
The Akron Film+Pixel nonprofit, armed with a $120,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, plans to transform an existing building downtown into The Nightlife, the city’s first digital art house cinema. The marquee would advertise the theater’s daily fare of independent and foreign films, said Steve Felix, with Akron Film+Pixel.
The group plans a “smallish version of a traditional marquee,” complete with bright lights, to boost the theater’s visibility, Felix said.
Felix declined to reveal the building’s location because talks with the building owner are ongoing.
Stonehedge Family Fun Center — home of bowling alleys and the outdoor miniature golf course — is one of two for-profit establishments receiving grants. The other is the Hilton Inn Akron/Fairlawn on West Market Street in Fairlawn, which will use its $3,287 award to promote its renovations in various materials.
At Stonehedge, the miniature golf course reopened last year after being closed for two seasons as overgrown bushes and trees were removed.
The golf course offers customers an alternative to bowling and boosts business at Stonehedge in the warmer months, said general manager Jim Mansfield. “In the summertime, it’s tough to compete with the great outdoors,” he said.
This summer, Mansfield plans to host family cookouts on the golf course’s patio and put on car shows in Stonehedge’s parking lot.
The $49,312 in Destination Development grant money came out of the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau budget, which is funded by the county’s 5.5 percent bed tax.
Last year, the tax generated $4.4 million, up slightly from 2012 bed tax revenues and up nearly 16 percent from the $3.8 million in 2011, according to the county’s Budget and Finance Director Brian Nelsen.
The recipients of the grants are: Actors’ Summit, $1,500; Akron Art Museum, $5,000; Akron Civic Theater, $4,950; Akron Film+Pixel, $3,500; Akron Marathon, $2,500; FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby, $2,500; Downtown Akron Partnership, $2,500; Destination Hudson, $2,500; Hilton Akron/Fairlawn, $3,287; Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, $1,000; Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, $5,000; Bridgestone Invitational, $4,275; Stonehedge Entertainment, $1,500; Summit County Historical Society, $4,950; Weathervane Community Playhouse, $2,350, and Hale Farm & Village, $2,000.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.