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TSO Strategic Investments 2022


In August 2022, Travel Southern Oregon announced the Strategic Investment Fund. This fund was put in place to provide timely support for high-value destination development or marketing projects to make positive short-term impacts in Southern Oregon as a destination. For the 2023 cycle, investments that focus on visitor-facing outdoor recreation work, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that will make Southern Oregon a more welcoming destination; capacity and event support for new or impactful culinary and cultural experiences will be seen as strategic priorities.

From August 2022 to June 2023 Travel Southern Oregon invested $140,000 into 21 projects across the region. There is no additional funding for the remainder of the 2023 fiscal calendar.

Travel Southern Oregon encourages all non-profits, non-governmental organizations, Recognized Tribes, and private businesses located and serving Southern Oregon to apply.

We are pleased to announce the following projects have been funded.

Lake of the Woods Resort – ADA Fishing Pier ($10,000)

In partnership with the United States Forest Service, Oregon State Marine Board, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Game, Lake of the Woods Resort will be constructing ADA-compliant pathways to connect existing parking areas to the shoreline, ADA-compliant access for fishing, and non-motorized boating. The new access point will reduce boater and fisherperson conflicts by allowing broader and almost year-round access to fishing at Lake of the Woods Resort.

Lake of the Woods Resort, Klamath Falls:

Illinois Valley Community Development Organization – Rough and Ready Botanical Restoration and Wheelchair Trail ($7,000)

With ten years of community support, the Rough and Ready Botanical Restoration and Wheelchair Trail is nearing completion.  Illinois Valley Community Development Organization (IVCanDo) sought gap funding to cover the difference in the increased cost of building materials. Plans for the project include installing a six-foot-wide wheelchair-accessible trail, log benches at intervals allowing all to rest on the path, and developing interpretive wayside panels to increase visitor understanding and appreciation of this unique area. The expanded trail and educational opportunities will help restore botanically sensitive areas previously trampled by off-trail traffic.

Destination Applegate – Visitor-Facing Website ($5,000)

After holding listening sessions in 2020, an Applegate Valley Business Steering Committee developed the original idea for Destination Applegate. Representing wineries, lavender farms, artists, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, representatives from the Rogue Valley Food Trail, and the Applegate Valley History Trail, a plan was developed to communicate with visitors about the rich potential the Applegate Valley holds. A new visitor-facing website will allow for direct, accurate, and precise information about how to best experience the Applegate Valley. The newly formed Destination Applegate working group will advise on content to create a site that channels tourism to benefit the people to live and work in the valley. The requested funds will be used to work with a local web designer to make the Destination Applegate website a reality.

Neuman Hotel Group – Brine, Brew, and Barrel ($5,000)

Brine, Brew & Barrel is a brainchild of the Neuman Hotel Group Sales & Marketing team and was created with the idea of attracting visitors to Southern Oregon in January. The first festival occurred in January 2020 in Medford and was a huge success. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision was made to wait to host this culinary and educational event. Now, on January 14 & 15, 2023, vendors, speakers, and visitors will be welcomed to Ashland at Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites. Offering overnight packages, lectures, workshops, Friday night dinner, chef demos, opportunities to taste different products showcased by vendors, and much more. Funds will be used towards marketing, event production, travel cost for VIP speakers, and PR.

Brine, Brew, and Barrel Festival 2020 Photo Credit: Neuman Hotel Group

Siskiyou Mountain Club – Volunteer Vacations ($10,000)

For 12 years, the Siskiyou Mountain Club has successfully created programs aimed at reopening trails on public lands throughout Southwest Oregon. In 2023, volunteer projects targeting out-of-area visitors will be developed. Allows for easy-entry experiences that connect people with the Siskiyou region. While working on the Illinois River National Recreation Trail, the Wild Rogue Loop, the Boundary National Recreation Trail, and the Upper Rogue National Recreation Trail, the Siskiyou Mountain Club will provide evening natural history lessons and a semi-catered experience to attract new volunteers who are interested in the area and are likely to return. Funds requested will be used to pay staff, provide field supplies, food for volunteers, and transportation.

Talent Business Alliance – Boost and Amplify Program ($10,000)

In partnership with Business in Talent, The City of Talent, and Talent Urban Renewal Agency, the Talent Business Alliance created the Boost and Amplify Program. Designed to increase the visibility of Talents downtown commercial district in order to help sustain businesses as they rebuild infrastructure and revitalize the economy post the 2020 Almeda Fire. In addition to music events, the Boost and Amplify Program also provides grants to local businesses for organizing other events, such as pop-up markets and multi-cultural celebrations. The requested funding will allow the Talent Business Alliance to extend the Boost and Amplify programming throughout the city as businesses and events seek to recapture their patron and visitor bases negatively impacted by the Almeda Fire.

Travel Phoenix Oregon – Visitor Guide ($6,000)

In January 2021, Travel Phoenix Oregon launched the first-ever “Visitor Guide” for Phoenix, Oregon. The Visitor Guide told the story of Phoenix – the businesses and people who contribute to the visitor experience. Since then, having completed a second photo shoot and begun writing corresponding articles Travel Phoenix Oregon sought funding to release its second version as a printed edition.

The response to our first Visitor Guide was extremely positive and gave a solid foundation to build upon. In the second edition, the financial support will allow for greater reach. Phoenix is home to a resident base that is widely considered underserved. The printed Visitor Guide will highlight the wonders of Phoenix and draw in visitors post-reconstruction efforts.

National Forest Foundation – Thousand Springs Sno-Park Development ($1,932)

The National Forest Foundation (NFF) and the Rogue Snowmobilers recently forged a partnership to work together on the expansion of the Thousand Springs Sno-Park, located in Jackson County ten miles west of Crater Lake National park on Highway 62. The Rogue Snowmobilers oversee the operation of the Sno-Park, which includes a warming shelter with a kitchen, a maintenance building that houses a generator and a trail grooming machine, and a 50,000 square-foot paved parking lot for unloading snowmobiles and parking tow vehicles and trailers.

Since this is the only snow park in Jackson County and the closest to Medford, it sees extensive use throughout the snow season. Users are often turned away due to lack of room to park. Therefore, Rogue Snowmobilers has been working closely with Jackson County and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to create plans for doubling the parking area. Jackson County has completed the engineering designs, and the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF is working to finalize the NEPA.

Now that designs and NEPA are nearing completion, fundraising for project implementation is the next step. NFF will take the lead on fundraising. Once funds are raised, NFF will lead project management and procurement, working closely with the other project partners. This funding request is to provide capacity to the NFF to support the forward progress of this project. The requested funds will cover six days’ time plus indirect expenses.

Friends of the Oregon Caves and Chateau – Save the Oregon Caves Chateau NHL Status ($5,000)

Funding will be used to hire a PR firm that will facilitate the distribution of a press release with the goal of attracting high-value nation-wide press to the current restoration efforts for the Oregon Caves Chateau. 

It is an exciting time for the Friends of the Oregon Caves and Chateau – projects are ramping up for the intended reopening of the Chateau for both day use and for overnight guests in 2024-2025. 

The National Park Service is focusing on the necessary structural restoration of the building, and Friends are well on their way to raising the gap of over 4 million dollars to ensure that the vital historic character of the Chateau is maintained. The Chateau is one of only two National Historic Landmark lodges in the state of Oregon that houses overnight guests. In order to maintain the Chateau’s status as a National Historic Landmark, it is essential that all historic elements of the lodge are handled with great care.

Southern Oregon University – Sustainable Tourism Workshop ($10,000)

The Sustainable Tourism Professional Training is designed for the tourism industry professionals in Oregon. The training will provide foundations in sustainable and regenerative tourism while exploring and interpreting the Travel Oregon transformational strategic vision -identifying a tangible pathway for various tourism businesses and organizations in the journey towards sustainability.

Participants in the training will leave with a thorough understanding of sustainability and sustainable tourism, knowing what Travel Oregon’s transformational strategic vision entails, as well as a set of tools on how to begin/build, measure, and continuously advance sustainable tourism.

Case studies from destinations and businesses worldwide will enrich knowledge and ideas for Oregon businesses and beyond. The practitioners’ training is developed at Southern Oregon University and endorsed by Travel Oregon.

  • Southern Oregon University will utilize the requested funds to cover expenses related to the training.

Lake County Chamber of Commerce – Dark Sky “Tear Sheet” Guide ($5,000)

Dark Skies at Summer Lake Hotsprings

The Lake County Chamber will create and distribute a tear sheet guide. The guide will be focused on Dark Sky Tourism in Lake County. The Chamber will focus on a map of the area on one side and highlight the importunacy of Leave No Trace, what to expect in the area, fun/helpful tips on Lake County Dark Sky, and local business on the other side. While in the planning stage of this project, the Chamber will work with support from Travel Southern Oregon to make this project a reality and welcome visitors to Lake County. 

The funds will be used to secure a graphic designer, print the physical guides, and pay for distribution.

Lake County Resource Initiative – Tour De Outback ($7,500)

The 2023 Tour De Outback mission is to introduce all ages of cyclists to the breathtaking frontier area of Southeastern Oregon, its inhabitants, and their lifestyles. The requested funds will help make this event a reality by helping pay for necessary supplies and the equipment needed to make the event a go. 

By bringing tourism into the small, economically depressed Southeastern communities in Lake County, many underserved populations and organizations benefit through exposure and dollars spent in their communities. Adel consists of a store, a post office, a K-8 school, a church, and several working cattle ranches. A family cycling event showcases the rich cultural history of training wild horses and conserving many environmental and geological gems hidden in this country, providing a unique experience for all involved.

Tour De Outback

Lake County Resources Initiative serves as the non-profit fiscal sponsor for the Tour de Outback event. 

This effort will take a partnership of local agencies, non-profits, and private businesses, as well as the support of Travel Southern Oregon, to benefit the surrounding communities and the Beaty Butte Wild Horses organization.

Rogue Valley Vintners – Industry Marketing ($5000)

Rogue Valley/Southern Oregon was nominated for 2022 Wine Region of the Year, and Troon Vineyards as American Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s management and staff. While neither Rogue Valley nor Troon won, Rogue Valley Vintners is planning to attend the Wine Star Awards Gala on January 30 in San Francisco to show support for the Rogue Valley and Troon nominations, as well as network with wine press, beverage management buyers/leaders, industry influencers and other wine professionals. The goal is to create greater awareness for the region and set the stage for a future tasting event hosted by WE Magazine on behalf of Rogue Valley Wine Country. RVV is also working with partners to host a Somm Camp enrichment trip for Rogue Valley Wine Country. The TSO grant will offset the cost of transportation through Main Street Tours. Both of these activities will drive awareness of Rogue Valley Wine Country and culinary experiences, exposing industry professionals to the region and boosting opportunities for 1) PR/earned media through contact with writers and editors; 2) collaboration with culinary partners to showcase the region’s growing gastronomic scene; and 3) expanding our sphere of influence through those who make wine purchase decisions and are in positions to educate consumers about Rogue Valley wine selections and award-winning dining experiences.

Rogue Valley Mountain Bikers Association – Lizard Trail Work ($5000)

Lizard Trail is possibly the most ridden trail in the Ashland Watershed and will provide a highly visible platform for outreach by RVMBA and our aligned organizations. The modifications to the trail will help reinforce the message that Ashland and the Rogue Valley (as well as Oregon in general) have world-class trails that are destination-travel worthy! We would need to do the work during the rainy months, and have availability with the trail builder in early March 2023. This project is fully approved and shovel ready.

Mt. Ashland Watershed

Elkton Community Education Center – Bluegrass & Butterflies Festival ($8000)

The first annual Bluegrass & Butterflies festival will be held on the grounds of the Elkton Community Education Center on September 16, 2023. Our goal is to create an annual event that becomes a featured entry on the Pacific Northwest’s bluegrass festival circuit, and a fundraiser for ECEC. The festival is a key part of rebuilding our town’s ability to attract tourists as we recover from the pandemic. A coalition of local business leaders and music lovers formed “Elktunes LLC” to organize the festival. The group has years of experience attending music festivals around the region and deep ties throughout Douglas County. They’ve raised over $20,000 so far, have signed contracts with Never Come Down and Brothers Comatose, and are in active talks with other musicians. The LLC is responsible for event marketing, tickets, musician contracts and other festival expenses.

Lakeview Community Partnership – Annual Lakeview Cowboy Poetry Gathering ($6000)

The 2nd Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering will be held at the historic Alger Theater in October. We are currently beginning our marketing plan, hiring poets and musicians, and developing our sponsorship program. The funds from TSO will be used primarily for media costs such as radio, newspaper, and other print media such as “Save the Date” cards, magnets and flyers. The Lakeview Cowboy Poetry Gathering is a “shoulder season” event whose mission is to Preserve, Restore and Promote the Western History and Culture of Ranching and Agriculture in Southern Oregon.

Klamath Folk Festival – Marketing & Production ($5000)

The Klamath Folk Festival is a community music event featuring a combination of regional talent and larger known acts. Proceeds from the event fund a number of nonprofit efforts in the music field, including other music series gaining regional artist and audience attention while providing outlets and opportunities to rural performers. This year’s festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 26, 2023 and will feature 12 acts across two stages at the Ross Ragland Theater in Klamath Falls. Funds will be used to finance the various necessary components of putting on this larger scale event, including: final performer fees, marketing, event personnel, and event resources.

Sutherlin Area Chamber of Commerce – Lights! Camera! Sutherlin! ($10,000)

Lights, Camera…Sutherlin is the Sutherlin Area Chamber of Commerce asset collection project aimed to provide photographic and social media marketing assets of our businesses, events, and organizations to further promote our destination through high quality digital social media campaigns, visitor guides, rack cards, brochures, website content and so on.

Umpqua Velo – The Vineyard Tour ($5000)

The Vineyard Tour is an annual event that draws cyclists into the Umpqua Valley to enjoy our scenery, food, wine and people. The event has activities over the whole course of Labor Day Weekend, starting with Friday evening and finishing with a coffee ride on Monday morning, and will include a drawing for local products. Funds will be used to expand our marketing to the rest of Oregon as well as new markets in California.

All Across Oregon – PBS TV Show ($7500)

All Across Oregon is a TV show on PBS. This television show features local, run businesses, as well as tourism attractions in the state of Oregon, focusing mainly on Southern Oregon. We are currently about to start filming our third season. The show has now been picked up nationally. We are in need of funds to help with the syndication process. Specifically close captioning every episode from the beginning, which covers 60 businesses and attractions in Oregon. The third season will feature an additional 30 businesses and attractions in Oregon, again focusing mostly on Southern Oregon. We are putting Southern Oregon on the map with the show and it is already a regional television series hearing from north of Portland down south of Redding, California.