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‘An Unusual and Creative Avenue’

Unique CFA Grantmaking Supports Tourism, Recreation Marketing & Recovery Endeavors

Thanks to a $150,000 grant awarded in 2020 from CFA’s Community Initiatives Fund, local businesses and organizations are finding help marketing their offerings and our region.

Administered and created by Visit Johnstown, the Cambria County Destination Recovery Marketing Program, which closed for applications on March 31, aimed to help local small businesses and tourism-connected organizations bulk up their marketing efforts, which has become especially critical as our region transitions away from pandemic restrictions.

CFA President Mike Kane said the concept aligns with the economic development goals of the Community Initiatives Fund.

“We understand how important it is to help businesses in our community during this crisis,” he said. “Tourism and small businesses both are critical to our community’s economic health as together we work to recover from the effects of the pandemic and into the future. Working with Visit Johnstown provided an unusual and creative avenue to have our community’s philanthropic resources directly support the people and small businesses in this highly impacted part of our local economy.”

The funding will help to market some of the area’s beloved signature events as well as promote new initiatives that will help to attract visitors and provide entertainment and recreation for residents, Lisa Rager, Visit Johnstown’s executive director, said.

“Our area’s tourism industry has been significantly affected by the decline in travel in 2020 and the cancellation of events, so we hope to get folks back to our area, enjoying all that we have to offer and, most importantly, spending money with our businesses,” Rager said.

Through the grantmaking, local businesses like Celestial Brides & Prom, Miller’s of Johnstown, Hope Cyclery, and others received a boost to help get people shopping again. Other organizations, such as the Northern Cambria Community Development Corp. (NCCDC), received funding to help them advertise local events to visitors from out of town.

NCCDC Executive Director Matt Barczak said the $7,000 the organization received is being put toward advertising the Northern Cambria Regional Heritage Festival across the region and across county borders, into Indiana and Clearfield counties. The annual festival, to be held July 9 and 10 in Northern Cambria Borough, highlights the region’s history and heritage and offers an important opportunity for local businesses, vendors, and nonprofits like the Hope Fire Company.

The festival, which could not be held in 2020 due to the pandemic, is especially meaningful for community members and families, he said. Being able to advertise and make this year a big draw will be a boost for local spirits and businesses.

“Part of it is to focus on local businesses and restaurants and civic organizations,” he said. “It also brings local vendors and crafters together. We do a kid zone with obstacle courses and games. The deejay starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and we have live entertainment all day. It’s for the community, for local businesses, to promote them, and to get people from out of the area is a huge help.”

Rosemary Pawlowski, founder and director of Gallery on Gazebo in downtown Johnstown, said the Gallery is using the funding to help with a special initiative, “Downtown on Wheels.” The idea is to create guided bike tours that begin downtown and allow guests to explore the city and nearby trails.

In addition to $7,000 from the Cambria County Destination Recovery Marketing Program, the Gallery also has been awarded funding from the Lee Initiatives Health & Wellness Endowment to purchase the bikes from Hope Cyclery.

Pawlowski said she hopes to build on the local bike culture and work with other nearby businesses to create destination points. Being able to get the idea off the ground and promote it will make for a great start, she said.

“To be able to market this, especially coming out of the pandemic, is really what we needed,” she said. “The people we have as volunteer guides, we have a lot of confidence in them. We’re also mentioning this to other businesses in the community, and it might be a way for them to get themselves out there again.”

Twenty-three businesses and organizations will receive funds from this program.

Entities to receive funds are:

  • Johnstown Area Heritage Association: $7,000
  • Johnstown Oldtimers Baseball Association: $7,000
  • Celestial Brides & Prom: $7,000
  • Collaborative Craft: $7,000
  • Community Arts Center of Cambria County: $7,000
  • Northern Cambria Community Development Corporation: $7,000
  • Roze Entertainment, LLC: $7,000
  • Gallery on Gazebo: $7,000
  • Johnstown Tomahawks: $5,000
  • Miller’s of Johnstown, Inc.: $7,000
  • The Learning Lamp: $6,000
  • Sandyvale Cemetery Association: $7,000
  • Windscape ArtVentures: $7,000
  • The BottleWorks/Arts on 3rd Avenue: $7,000
  • 1901 Church, Inc. d/b/a The Steeples Project: $3,500
  • Lorain/Stonycreek Hiking Trails: $3,500
  • Crown American Associates: $7,000
  • Hampton by Hilton Johnstown: $3,500
  • Wooly’s Neighborhood Celtic Pub: $6,500
  • Stackhouse Park: $5,500
  • Hope Cyclery: $6,000
  • Johnstown Mill Rats: $6,000
  • State Theater of Johnstown: $6,000


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