The Department of Tourism recently announced $496,304 awarded in Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grants. JEM grants provide partnership funding to help nonprofit Wisconsin organizations promote tourism, including three groups in the North Woods.

The Minocqua, Rhine­lander and Antigo chambers of commerce received a total of $117,100 in three tourism awards, though other area communities are partnering with those chambers.

The grants will help fund ATV/UTV trail research, boost marketing following a tough year during COVID-19 and rebrand an Oneida County community.

“Tourism is a key part of Wisconsin’s economy, part of a multibillion-dollar ecosystem that will be vital to our state’s recovery,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “As more people start to travel again, the programs and initiatives supported by these JEM grants will help draw in visitors from near and far.” 

With five rounds of grants throughout the year, the JEM grants are part of an ongoing program to ignite projects and grow economic impact. 

“I’m thrilled to recognize the ingenuity and creativity of these organizations across the state,” said Acting Secretary Anne Sayers. “JEM Grants reward great ideas and help make them a reality. I can’t wait to see these fun events and creative marketing campaigns inviting visitors to discover something unexpected.”

The JEM grant recipients in this area include:

• The Antigo-Langlade County Chamber of Commerce was awarded a $38,000 JEM grant for a research project to learn more about the ATV/UTV market. The chamber will be partnering with Three Lakes chamber, Explore Rhine­lander, Let's Minocqua chamber, Merrill chamber, Tomahawk Regional chamber and Forest County chamber. The research will be used to develop a cooperative website that messages the ATV/UTV opportunities in northern Wisconsin.

• The Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce was awarded a $39,550 JEM grant to promote summer and fall tourism in the North Woods. The Northwoods of Wisconsin (NOW) is a regional marketing consortium composed of destination marketing organ­-

izations (DMOs) from six counties: Forest, Iron, Lincoln, Langlade, Oneida and Price. Working collaboratively, NOW is continuing the Addy Award-winning branding of “We Love the Northwoods,” a campaign that launched in 2020 as a COVID-19 recovery project to promote safe travel to the region and especially the vast outdoor recreational assets in the North Woods. This year's campaign will increase promotion in the Chicago metro area and the Twin Cities metro area.

• The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce was awarded a $39,550  JEM?grant for a rebranding effort to launch in May 2022. In May, Explore Rhinelander will reveal the new website and relaunch key marketing channels (social media, e-newsletters) with updated branding, using these channels to drive traffic to the new site. They will also launch a six-week sweepstakes, hosted on the new website, to generate excitement for the new brand, website and social platforms.

Create jobs

Sayers said a JEM grant is often a catalyst for communities, giving them the means to tap into the power of travel to make a solid impact on their economy and create jobs for its residents. 

Eligible expenses include but are not limited to: e-mail marketing, print and broadcast ads, direct mail, public relations and billboards. 

The next round of applications for JEM grants will be accepted through Aug. 1. For information on the JEM program and application materials, visit

In fiscal year 2021, the Department funded 45 JEM projects, awarding $1,130,000 million statewide. 

JEM grant funds are available to nonprofit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. 

The state can fund up to 75% 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.