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Tourism grant boosts Iron River sled dog race

The Iron River Area Chamber of Commerce is sprinting into the first Northern Pines Sled Dog Race with help from a $3,900 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

The new event, which aims to showcase Northern Wisconsin's natural beauty and recreation opportunities, will feature three sled dog races, with sprint lengths of 4.8, 8.4, 12.5 and 16.2 miles. Northern Pines Sled Dog Race will take place Feb. 16 at Northern Pines Golf Course and Event Center in Iron River.

"Iron River is home to so many recreational opportunities, not just in the winter, but all year long. The area's natural resources make it a great destination for silent sports enthusiasts," said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. "We're excited to support this JEM grant, which will spotlight the winter season in Iron River and encourage visitors to return throughout the year."

Attendees will be able to watch sled dog racers on different parts of the race route, with spectator areas at the start and finish line. They can also experience northern Wisconsin woods and winter recreation with free snowshoeing and other family activities.

The event is anticipated to attract 1,300 attendees, generating an estimated $75,200 in visitor spending in the area. Grant funds will go toward print, TV and social media advertising to attract guests from Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

"We are excited to provide a new attraction to Iron River. Our goal is to be a successful place of destination in northern Wisconsin," said Geri Dresen, Director of Iron River Area Chamber of Commerce. "We appreciate the JEM Grant opportunity and support from the Department of Tourism."

In 2017, the tourism economy in Wisconsin totaled $20.6 billion, a 3.2 percent increase from 2016. Tourism activity supports 195,255 jobs in Wisconsin, a seven-year addition of more than 23,255 jobs to the state's total employment, an increase of 13.5 percent. Visitors generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue.

Business sales in Bayfield County reached $64.3 million, supporting 603 jobs and more than $6 million in state and local taxes.