Levy seeks BP marketing money

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By Lou Elliott Jones

The Levy County tourism director has learned that marketing money from BP is available to promote tourism and Florida fresh seafood and she is going after it despite a short deadline.

It is part of a $57 million fund created in April as part of a court settlement by BP to defray the effects of a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in 2010. 

Carol McQueen, director of the Tourist Development Council and Levy Visitor Bureau, told the County Commission on Tuesday that the money to help with local marketing efforts is being made available by BP as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010. 

She said the maximum amount available is $500,000, but she will be applying for $200,000. She said the money can be used for promotion of aquaculture, fishing, festivals and production of videos, among other items. 

“I just learned about this on Thursday,” she said in explaining why she had a non-agenda item to bring before the commission. The deadline to apply is Friday, Oct. 5, she said. 

McQueen said she is working with an advertising agency on the grant proposal which calls for a description of how the money will be spent. 

McQueen said the money is not available to replace current marketing efforts but to supplement it. 

Even though the commission vote to hear McQueen's request was 4-1 with Commissioner Chad Johnson dissenting, the vote to apply for the money was unanimous.