Willcox Theater and Arts awarded $1 million to boost tourism

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Willcox Theater: The Willcox Theater and Arts Inc. has been awarded a $1 million federal grant to boost tourism in Willcox.

Grant funded by the American Rescue Plan

Contributed Article/Courtesy U.S. Economic Development Administration

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1 million grant to Willcox Theater and Arts, Inc., Willcox, Arizona, to support the recovery of the tourism sector through improvements to the downtown historic district of Willcox. This grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan.

This grant will facilitate the construction of new event space in Willcox, as well as the renovation of two historic buildings to house a new virtual reality studio and exhibition center. The EDA investment will be matched with $397,528 in local funds and is expected to help create nearly 30 jobs and generate $90,920 in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

“President Biden recognizes the vital contribution the travel and tourism industry makes to the American economy,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This EDA investment in Willcox will help the city’s tourism sector recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and build back stronger for the future.”

“The Economic Development Administration is dedicated to working with communities to assist their locally-driven strategies to recover and rebuild from the pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This project will improve and enhance the experience of visitors to Willcox while also supporting the preservation of the city’s historic downtown area.”

“Arizonans working in Willcox’s arts and entertainment industry were hit hard by the pandemic. Today’s $1 million grant we secured for Willcox will help the city economically recover, and emerge more vibrant than ever,” said Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

“The renovation of these historic buildings will not only help conserve our state’s history but will also increase tourism and support the local economy in Willcox,” said Senator Mark Kelly.

“Since 1914, Willcox has looked to the Theater for entertainment and culture. Today´s Willcox Historic Theater restored the 1937 movie theater inside and out in authentic Art Deco style, with today’s latest in comfort and digital technology, showing first-run films seven days a week,” according to its website.

“Willcox Theater and Arts “Studio 128” and “Palace”, located in adjacent historic buildings, provide live stage programming, art workshops, STEAM, and digital arts programs. Serving all ages and interests, Willcox Theater and Arts provides everyone with opportunities to enjoy the arts, and to create, learn, and display accomplishments, while helping to keep the Railroad Avenue Historic District a vibrant downtown in Willcox.”

This project is funded under EDA’s $240 million competitive American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program. EDA awarded $510 million in 2021 to all 50 states and territories. The two programs are designed to accelerate the recovery of communities that rely on the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors. Effective May 26, 2022, EDA has officially closed all of its American Rescue Plan programs for applications. The $3 billion program funding will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities. It supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.