Long before the pandemic, local hotel leaders as well as Buncombe County Commissioners and our local delegation advocated for a change in the allocation of the occupancy tax, increasing funding for investment in community capital projects and decreasing funding for promoting Asheville and Buncombe County to visitors. Effective July 1, 2022 those changes became law, changing the occupancy tax split from three-quarters to be used for tourism promotion and one-quarter for community capital projects, to a split of two-thirds/one-third, increasing funding for community capital projects. It also created the new Legacy Investment from Tourism (LIFT) Fund.
The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’s Legacy Investment from Tourism (LIFT) Fund provides financial investment through grants, loan guarantees, or pledges of debt service to tourism-related capital projects that will increase patronage of lodging facilities and benefit the community at large in Buncombe County.
The LIFT Fund can be used to support the following types of tourism-related capital projects:
- Construction of a new location or relocation
- Expansion of an existing location
- Restoration or rehabilitation of an existing location
- Maintenance of a tourism-related capital project
- Design of a tourism-related capital project
- Project management of a tourism-related capital project
- Enhancement of natural resources
- Expansion of necessary infrastructure
For a project to be considered for funding, it must successfully complete a 2-phase application process. All applications will be reviewed by the LIFT Committee, and the Committee will then make funding recommendations to the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA). Nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to apply. Applications for the 2023 Grant Cycle will open in October 2023.
Dates for the 2023/2024 Legacy Investment from Tourism (LIFT) Fund Grant Cycle
|September 2023||Program Guide Released & Timeline Released|
|October 2023||Phase I Application Opens|
|November 2023||Phase I Application Closes|
|December 2023||Phase I Applicants Notified (Invite to Phase II)|
|February 2024||Phase II Application Closes|
|March 2024||Phase II Project Presentations|
|April 2024||Phase II Project Site Visits by LIFT Committee|
|April 2024||Committee Funding Recommendations presented to BCTDA|
BCTDA Seeks Candidates to Serve on Legacy Investment From Tourism (LIFT) Fund Committee
The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) is seeking candidates to serve on the nine-member Legacy Investment from Tourism (LIFT) Fund Committee. This group will make recommendations to the BCTDA for funding tourism-related capital projects that will increase patronage at lodging facilities in Buncombe County by attracting tourists, business travelers, or both, and benefit the community at large in Buncombe County.
Committee Member Roles & Responsibilities
In assessing applications for LIFT grants, committee members must have a thorough understanding of the grant requirements as mandated by the legislation and are responsible for upholding the priorities of the BCTDA. Grant requirements and selection criteria will be included in LIFT Program Guidelines to be released in September 2023, which members will use to determine if a project satisfies program requirements. Committee members are expected to maintain an unbiased position and refrain from communications or meetings with applicants throughout the review process.
Committee members serve a term that consists of three funding cycles spanning a minimum of three years. Members may serve no more than two consecutive terms.
A typical funding cycle includes a series of committee meetings:
- Committee Member Orientation
- Phase I Review
- Phase II Review & Project Presentations
- Site Visits
- Final Review
Committee members are required to attend each meeting and should expect to actively participate in group discussion. Meetings range from three to eight hours in length and require substantial preparation, to include reviewing lengthy application documents with financials, marketing plans, and feasibility studies. Committee members may also be asked to attend other meetings outside of the grant cycle to assess project issues as they arise.
A majority of the members of the Committee (5 of 9 members) must be persons who are owners or operators of hotels, motels or other taxable lodging accommodations. The remainder of the committee shall be comprised of representatives with tourism, legal, financial, economic development, architecture, or engineering expertise. The BCTDA is currently seeking candidates to fill all nine positions.
LIFT Fund Committee Application Timeline
|May 15, 2023||LIFT Committee Application Open|
|July 7, 2023||LIFT Committee Applications Due|
|July 31, 2023 – August 11, 2023||Applicant Interviews|
|Week of August 14, 2023||Selection Committee Final Vote|
|August 30, 2023||LIFT Committee Members presented to BCTDA for Approval|
Please complete the online LIFT Fund Committee Member Application. Applications are due by Friday, July 7, 2023 at 5:00pm ET.