Bill could provide grants to bring conventions to mid-Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - If passed, a bill in the Missouri House could provide grants to help attract more conferences and conventions to mid-Missouri.

The Meet in Missouri Act, HB 1698, is sponsored by Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.

The bill was set to be presented to the House Trade and Tourism committee Wednesday morning.

The grants could help groups by offsetting event costs by up to 50 percent or $1 million, whichever amount is lower.

"We want to make sure that groups, and conferences, and conventions that may not have considered Missouri before actually see Missouri as an attractive destination for their business," Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau (CCVB) Marketing and Communications Manager Meghan McConachie said.

The bill also states at least half of the attendees of an event must be coming in from out of state and staying in hotels or motels in order for an event to get a grant approved.

HB 1313 was a similar bill proposed last year, but it was rejected due to what some called too many add-ons.

McConachie said she is optimistic that the bill will pass now it is a stand-alone bill, as it has the backing of several representatives in the state.

CCVB Director Amy Schneider said in a letter to the Trade and Tourism committee the bill would "keep Missouri cities in the hunt for this lucrative business" in the future.

Schneider was set to testify in favor of the bill on Wednesday morning.