Governor Kelly Announces $30 Million in Tourism Grants

TOPEKA –Governor Laura Kelly announced today that $30 million has been awarded to 18 recipients developing and improving tourism sites statewide. Funding was made available through the State Park Revitalization & Investment in Notable Tourism (SPRINT) program launched by the Department of Commerce earlier this year.

“A thriving tourism sector is critical for the Kansas economy,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “These grants enhance attractions that draw visitors to the state and showcase what makes Kansas a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”

The funds were designated by the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Executive Committee and approved by the State Finance Council to support capital projects that spur regional economic development in the tourism industry, one of the most affected industries by COVID-19.

“Increasing the appeal of our state parks and other tourist attractions will have a notable impact on local communities as well as the entire Kansas economy,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “The SPRINT awards support major projects that will attract new visitors across the state.”

Visitor spending, which generates a total annual economic impact of $11.2 billion in Kansas, has yet to return fully to pre-pandemic levels.

“Tourism is an important aspect of the Kansas economy, a sector in which 85,000 Kansans already are employed,” Senate President Ty Masterson said. “From parks to other attractions, Kansas has so much to offer those traveling and seeking to learn more about our state. The SPRINT grants will help ensure they remain vibrant for decades to come.”

SPRINT applications included investments in state parks, museums, convention and visitor bureaus, conference centers, performing arts centers, entertainment venues, and other tourism-focused businesses and tourism agencies. Recipients will use funds towards infrastructure enhancements, renovation and repair of facilities, general construction, public land development, recruitment costs for permanent and semi-permanent exhibits, and costs for national museum affiliation. Awardees will have two years to complete their projects and utilize all awarded funds.

“Our attractions and outdoor recreational opportunities benefit residents and visitors alike,” House Speaker Daniel Hawkins said. “The SPARK Committee wanted to enhance these sites and improve the quality of life in nearby towns and cities.”

To see a list of SPRINT grant awardees and for more information about the program, click here.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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