QUINCY -- The Oakley-Lindsay Center has contributed more than $17,000 to assist events in Quincy through tourism grants in the last year.
The Quincy Civic Center Authority received a report at its meeting Wednesday on how the first year of the grant program went. The authority earmarked $18,000 grants from the city's hotel-motel tax, of which $17,312 was spent.
Funds were provided to the Little People's Golf Association, the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the Quincy Civic Music Association, the Quincy Conference and the Quincy City Tournaments. The OLC also received a grant after it took over organizing two annual craft shows.
Rob Ebbing, executive director of the OLC, said the fund is working the way it was envisioned.
"The purpose of it is kind of an incubator type of grant that will help people on a start-up event or enlarging an existing event that puts people in hotels and pays us back in the long run," Ebbing said.
The grants are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Grants of up to $5,000 are available based on Quincy hotel and motel use.
A committee comprising authority members, OLC employees, and hotel and tourism officials reviews proposals.
The authority agreed to provide a tourism grant of $5,000 for the first Quincy Shootout basketball tournament Jan. 26-27, 2018. The tournament will feature 12 games with 17 teams from eight different states.
Also Wednesday, Ebbing also told authority members that one area that the OLC could grow its business is by investing in a commercial-size stage.
"It's a major cost of anywhere from $4,000 and $10,000 every time a major group comes to the center, and sometimes it's kind of like a stumbling block for some of the concerts," he said. "Rent it back out for $2,500 or $3,500 and cut their cost in half, and it could attract more concerts where we get more rent and we get more concessions."
The cost of a commercial stage was estimated at $60,000.
Ebbing said the purchase could be paid with proceeds from the sale of the Quincy Gems, and from the facility's indoor soccer fields and volleyball courts, which are up for sale.
Authority member Tony Sassen said he was open to the idea but he didn't want to compete with anyone locally that rents stages.
Ebbing said stages for recent concerts have been brought in from Champaign, Chicago and even as far away as Florida.
He said the right concerts would need to be brought to town to make sure a return on investment is made, noting that the Feb. 19 Hairball concert attracted more than 1,400 people and set an event record for bar sales at the OLC.