MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners Tuesday OK'd a reimbursement agreement with a local nonprofit organization that calls for spending nearly $1 million over a maximum of seven years for marketing and promoting local sports venues.
The agreement with the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Association allows reimbursement for promoting tourism in Manatee County of up to $150,000 per year for four years with an option to extend through 2020.
The county will use money generated by the tourist development tax, a "bed tax" already imposed upon visitors to the county, and not ad valorem taxes, officials said.
Last year, the world rowing association called FISA picked Sarasota-Bradenton as the venue for the 2017 World Rowing Championship.
The "global awareness" the championship will bring to the area will annually attract new tourist dollars to the region and sustain business in years to come, said Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"It allows us to diversify our product in the marketplace," he said, noting the area has developed unique sports venues found in few other places around the world.
Commissioners said they are solidly behind the arrangement.
"We are a region and a region to be reckoned with," said Commissioner John Chappie discussing the $13 million regional economic impact resulting from 27 events held this year at Sarasota's Nathan Benderson Park.
A partnership comprised of Manatee and Sarasota counties and SANCA will stage the championship rowing event at the park, 5851 Nathan Benderson Circle. Other venues such as Manatee's Fort Hamer Park will also accommodate events, officials said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.