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Superior tourism commission funds Bong Center

The $164K grant will continue the long-standing relationship between the city and the veterans historical center if approved by the city council July 5.

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The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior
Contributed / Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center
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SUPERIOR — The city's longstanding relationship with the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center for tourism promotion will continue for at least one year.

The tourism development commission on Friday, June 24, approved awarding a grant in the amount of $164,243 to the center.

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Commissioner Pattie Soliday made a motion to award the Bong Center the full amount of their request.

“Before we created the tourism commission, the city award via a contract a percentage of the hotel/motel tax to the Bong veterans’ museum,” said Mayor Jim Paine. “The Bong museum has a little over 20-year history with the city, and it’s a history between Richard Ira Bong and his fighter plane as well as the tourism center. That’s why they received tourism money for at least 10 years.”

In 2012, the city council increased the lodging tax by 1.5% to provide additional funding for the Bong Center and city museums.

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Paine said the grant request is similar to the amount of funding the Bong Center received as a percentage of hotel/motel taxes collected.

“They are very much at the forefront of tourism,” Paine said. “A majority of their guests are from out of town. They engage in out-of-town advertising. They host our visitor’s center, which takes up a significant amount of their space, and I think most of their expenses. The actual nature of their museum is a known tourist draw. “

The Bong Center brings in people from all 50 states, Canada and other international visitors, according to information provided to the commission.

“To me, it checks all the boxes of the law, and we have a tradition of funding it,” Paine said. “For that reason I support funding this grant.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to award the grant.

The council will consider the award when it meets July 5.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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