Press Release: Gov. Evers, WEDC Request the Release of $10 Million Designed to Promote Wisconsin as a Premiere Host for Large-Scale Events

Office of Governor Tony Evers
Gov. Evers, WEDC Request the Release of $10 Million Designed to Promote Wisconsin as a Premiere Host for Large-Scale Events
Governor’s request comes as the state celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week
MADISON — As Gov. Evers is doing a statewide tour highlighting National Travel and Tourism Week and Wisconsin’s tourism jobs and economy, the governor and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) today requested the release of $10 million in already-approved funding for the Opportunity Attraction and Promotion Fund aimed at promoting Wisconsin as a premiere host and major destination for large-scale events. The Evers Administration today submitted a formal s. 13.10 request to the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) to release the $10 million investment, which was created and funded in the 2023-25 biennial budget.

This year’s National Travel and Tourism Week follows a record-breaking year for Wisconsin tourism in 2022. According to 2022 economic impact data, the tourism industry generated $23.7 billion in total economic impact, surpassing the previous record year of $22.2 billion set in 2019. 2023 economic impact data for the state is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

“Wisconsin’s tourism industry is a huge part of our state’s success—creating over $20 billion in economic impact and supporting over 100,000 jobs statewide each year,” said Gov. Evers. “From the Ice Age Trail officially being designated a national park and the NFL draft coming to Wisconsin in 2025 to the new Amtrak Borealis Train connecting St. Paul to Chicago straight through central Wisconsin, we’re doing big things here in the Badger State. We want to continue growing our tourism industry and investing in one of our state’s largest economic engines by promoting Wisconsin as a major destination for some of our country’s largest events.”

To support Wisconsin’s recent success in recruiting and hosting large-scale events like the 2025 NFL draft, in his 2023-25 biennial budget, Gov. Evers proposed creating and funding a $30 million opportunity and attraction fund, a measure that has significant benefits for local and regional businesses and workers, Main Streets, and the statewide economy. The final budget, as enacted by Gov. Evers, created the Opportunity Attraction and Promotion Fund, setting aside $10 million for the fund to be administered by WEDC in the JFC supplemental appropriation. 

The 2023-25 biennial budget, signed by Gov. Evers, invested approximately $34 million over the biennium to raise Wisconsin’s profile across the country as a premier business, cultural, and recreational destination. This is the largest increase in marketing and advertising funds for the Department of Tourism, and with this investment, the department will be able to run a competitive marketing campaign and keep pace with neighboring states. Of these funds, $3 million over the biennium will be used for grants to Discover Green Bay and Visit Milwaukee to help capture the attention of the thousands of people who are attending the 2025 NFL draft and 2024 Republican National Convention and show all the wonderful entertainment opportunities Wisconsin has to offer. 

In March, Gov. Evers signed 2023 Wisconsin Act 169, which specifies the requirements related to the funding set aside in the 2023-25 budget for the purposes of funding the Opportunity Attraction and Promotion Fund program created under WEDC. The Evers Administration today is requesting the committee release the $10 million to establish the fund to assist communities with the costs of major events, such as the upcoming NFL Draft in Green Bay. Once the funds are released, WEDC’s Board of Directors, in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, will enact program guidelines outlining the requirements in the statute and providing potential applicants with information on eligibility. 

Since 2020, Gov. Evers has directed targeted investments totaling more than $1 billion of Wisconsin’s federal pandemic relief funds in economic resilience, and more than $200 million of that total was invested in the travel and tourism, hotels and lodging, and entertainment industries alone.

Additionally, last November, Gov. Evers announced $36.6 million in grants for building projects across the state in Janesville, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Door County that were previously rejected by members of the Wisconsin State Legislature in the 2023-25 Capital Budget process. The governor’s investment is projected to support over 400 jobs and nearly $68 million in economic activity. The effort, funded using American Rescue Plan Act funds, will ensure the projects can move forward and build upon Gov. Evers’ and the Evers Administration’s strategic investments that will have long-term impacts on the state’s tourism industry, workforce, and economy.

A copy of the s. 13.10 request submitted by WEDC to JFC is available here.

Last week, Gov. Evers sued the Wisconsin State Legislature over its refusal to release a critical investment aimed at improving K-12 student literacy, one of many investments intended to respond to pressing challenges facing Wisconsin. Additional information on Gov. Evers’ countersuit and Republican’s refusal to release nearly $200 million in already-approved funding to fight PFAS, improve kids’ literacy, and respond to hospital closures in Western Wisconsin is available here.

An online version of this release is available here.