Port of South Whidbey commissioners Jack Ng, left, Curt Gordon and Ed Halloran review a list of grant application requests before announcing their decision at a meeting. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Port of South Whidbey commissioners Jack Ng, left, Curt Gordon and Ed Halloran review a list of grant application requests before announcing their decision at a meeting. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Port announces annual grants for tourism development

Eight organizations get piece of $30,000 pie

One by one, they stood and made a case for why their particular nonprofit organization deserved a piece of the money pie being sliced up by the Port District of South Whidbey Island Board of Commissioners during its monthly meeting Tuesday.

In the end, all eight organizations received a share of nearly $30,000 in grant awards that the port annually distributes in support of bolstering groups that boost tourism and economic development.

The port has offered the grants since 2006 with money from its general fund.

“Amounts budgeted for this grant program vary from year to year depending on the anticipated tax revenue and operating income revenue for the budget year versus anticipated expenses,” explained Port Executive Director Stan Reeves.

Money for marketing, promotional materials and advertising campaigns to attract off-island visitors were cited as needs by numerous applicants while others asked for funding of capital projects that would benefit South Whidbey tourism.

Art organizations, vineyard tours, organic farming and fair activities were among the applicants selected for funding.

“The best way to spend our money is to get people here to spend their money,” Commissioner Curt Gordon said before announcing the awards. He noted that the port grants had increased to $30,000 from $20,000 a few years ago but it still didn’t seem enough to back all the creative projects and people behind them.

“We’re super grateful for all you do,” Gordon said. “I know you’re all volunteers and I know what it is to make those sacrifices.”

The South Whidbey Port District grant recipients and award amounts are as follows:

Greater Freeland Chamber of Commerce, $5,000

Island Shakespeare Festival, $5,000

NABC/Whidbey Island Vintners & Distillers, $3,750

Organic Farm School, $3,000

South Whidbey Assembly of God/Celebrate America, $2,000

South Whidbey Commons, $4,000

Whidbey Island Arts Council, $3,000

Whidbey Island Fair, $4,000

Applause and a chorus of gratitude followed the funding announcement.

“I really appreciate it that you’re not playing favorites in any way,” said Leanne Finlay with the Freeland Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “You’re doing a great job.”

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