Pierce County Economic Development Corporation is launching a research project to identify the county's tourism brand with help from a $13,144 Joint Effort Marketing grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Data collected from the project will help Pierce County establish a new brand and develop marketing materials to attract travelers to the area.

"We are excited to support Pierce County in their efforts to create a new branding strategy using surveys that comes directly from visitors," said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. "We know that successful marketing campaigns are based on research. This Year 1 JEM grant will help the county take its first steps toward a cohesive plan to attract more travelers to the area."

The research study, which began in early December, will reveal the tourism assets that are unique to the area and how visitor perceptions align with current marketing efforts. The study will also help the Pierce County Economic Development Corporation make recommendations about branding, marketing and development opportunities. Surveys will collect data from local stakeholders, current visitors and potential visitors. Grant funds will go towards research costs related to the study.

"This JEM grant will enable our community to identify and develop marketing strategies and plans to effectively develop, promote, and grow our tourism and agritourism assets," said Joe Folsom, Executive Director Pierce County Economic Development Corporation.

In 2017, the tourism economy in Wisconsin totaled $20.6 billion, a 3.2 percent increase from 2016. Tourism activity supports 195,255 jobs in Wisconsin, a seven-year addition of more than 23,255 jobs to the state's total employment, an increase of 13.5 percent. Visitors generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue. Business sales in Pierce County reached $53.4 million, supporting 436 jobs and more than $3.3 million in state and local taxes.

In fiscal 2018, the Department funded 56 JEM projects, awarding a total of more than $1.1 million. Visitor expenditures driven by the marketing from these projects will exceed $74 million. JEM 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 " target="_blank">industry.travelwisconsin.com.