Foundation, Film Office Amongst New Endeavors to Generate Community Impact

Amid the struggles with the Illinois state budget and uncertainty in funding, Visit Champaign County adapted to create a sustainable funding model. The Visit Champaign County Foundation was formed and launched last month with a mission of supporting the bureau’s efforts in recruiting and retaining countywide events and activities, which drive economic growth and improve quality of life.

“It was necessary to create an organization that operates separately from Visit Champaign County,” explains Jayne DeLuce, President & CEO, as well as secretary for the Foundation. “If we truly want to compete with locations across the Midwest for major events like the IHSA State Basketball Tournament and the Hot Rod Power Tour, we need to have a Foundation which can support those bid fees.”

The Visit Champaign County is a 501(c)3 organization that will raise funds through corporate and individual donors. These funds will be used to provide the hefty bid fees often attached to major events and support new initiatives.

“The cost for these events is minimal in comparison to the impact it creates for a community,” states DeLuce. For example, the Hot Rod Power Tour, which took place in June of 2015 at Parkland College, required a $10,000 bid fee. Over 3,700 registered participants took part in the well-attended event and helped generate $1.5 million in economic impact for Champaign County.

Beyond generating economic impact for the community, the Foundation will work to support many other events that will contribute to the overall vibrancy of the community, whether it’s the proposed Innovation Museum or a public art walking/biking/driving tour.

Among these initiatives is the newly launched Champaign County Film Office, spearheaded by Visit Champaign County. Shatterglass Films approached the organization about the idea following the production of Consumed, filmed entirely in Champaign County.

“From Ebertfest to Pens to Lens, Champaign County has proven time and time again that it is a unique film community with great potential for growth,” explains Brett Hays, owner of Shatterglass Films. “The natural next step in this growth is having a film office that acts as the official liaison between the film industry and the community. Making films requires an incredible amount of resources, so it's very exciting to have a film office that will be actively promoting the amazing venues, locations, and wide variety of service providers that our community has to offer. There is so much that Champaign County has to offer for film and I'm excited that we will now have an advocate for not only our film community, but also our local economy.”

After a significant amount of research, Visit Champaign County implemented a unified permitting process that will ease the process for production companies who have previously had to connect with a variety of city and county services separately.

“The Film Office will take the weight of the shoulders of not only the production company, but also the host communities,” explains Terri Reifsteck, Vice President of Marketing for Visit Champaign County, who has spearheaded the efforts to launch the Film Office. “Our goal is to make Champaign County an attractive place to shoot, not only because of our diverse landscape and affordability, but also because we make the process simple and we protect everyone involved.”

TV & film production brings in over $300 million annually to the state's economy. The Champaign County Film Office looks to grow the impact locally by not only getting crews to spend dollars on public services, accommodations, catering, etc. but also by creating jobs.

“We will be adding a Directory of Services to our website which will feature local services such as editing, medical services, security, post-production and much more. This gives our talented community an opportunity to shine,” states Reifsteck.

The Champaign County Film Office, in collaboration with Shatterglass Films, looks to market this service heavily in 2016 to make location scouts and production companies aware of the various backdrops Champaign County provides.

More information on the Visit Champaign County Foundation and the Champaign County Film Office is available online at www.visitchampaigncounty.org. To learn how to support these initiatives, contact Jayne DeLuce or Terri Reifsteck at 217-351-4133.

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