VCB Awards Grants to Local Organizations

SANTA MARIA, CA—Nearly $32,000 in funds was awarded to 11 local non-profit organizations that applied. The effort is designed specifically to add to the VCB’s efforts to strengthen the local economy.

“This program was created to support events and projects that generate overnight stays in local hotels,” said Gina Keough, manager of the Santa Maria Valley Visitor & Convention Bureau. “We strategically support a diverse suite of events in order to tap different markets and groups. This includes reaching out to meeting planners and sporting event hosts to grow the number of gatherings in the Santa Maria Valley.”

She noted that one of the grant recipients is Central Coast Tennis, which attracts around 120 U.S. and international tennis players and their families to the annual Santa Maria Open Tennis Tournament, a registered U.S.T.A. Open tournament that is rated among the top open tennis events on the Central Coast. “When you add in the families this event brings about 350 people to Santa Maria for three to four days each September,” Keough said. “Eighty percent of them stay overnight and, of course, patronize our local restaurants and shops, too.”

Another growing event is the National Prep Classic, one of the top high school boys’ basketball tournaments on the West Coast. In the last two years, more than 50 teams totaling nearly 1,000 players and coaches have traveled from throughout the country to Santa Maria to participate in the event. As the tournament host, St. Joseph High School strategically offers incentives such as complimentary Santa Maria Style Barbecue dinners to keep the teams coming back.

“Our grants program allows organizations planning events to apply for marketing assistance in order to reach our target visitor markets,” Keough said. Key travel and tour markets for the Santa Maria Valley include the San Francisco Bay Area; Los Angeles; Bakersfield and Kern County; Nevada; Washington state; and Oregon. Keough added that the VCB also offers an array of complimentary services for event planners including free welcome bags for attendees.

Recipients for the second cycle of grants in 2012 are:

  • Santa Maria Valley Wine Country, in support of the Chardonnay Symposium held in June
  • Santa Maria A’s Model A Ford Club of America, in support of its All Ford Car Show & Swap Meet in September
  • Santa Maria Swim Club, in support of its Memorial Day Invitational
  • Central Coast Tennis, in support of its Santa Maria Open Tennis Tournament in September
  • Santa Maria Philharmonic Society, in support of Pops in the Vineyard held in July
  • Tailwinds of Santa Maria, in support of the Windmill Century Bike Ride in July
  • Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club, in support of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg West Coast Meet in October
  • Triple Crown Sports, in support of the Central Coast Fall Baseball Championships
  • Santa Maria Fairpark, in support of the Santa Barbara County Fair in July
  • Cruzin’ for Life, in support of the Cruzin’ for Life car show and events in September
  • St. Joseph High School, in support of the National Prep Classic Basketball Tournament in December

Said Keough, “The success of these events truly builds on our area’s recognition and economic well-being. We are pleased to offer our support and collaborate on getting the word out.”

For more information about Santa Maria Valley attractions, lodging and more, visit or call the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau at (800) 331-3779.


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