Tourism is a priority in Carbon County.

That's why county officials created the tourism grant fund after they implemented the 3 percent hotel tax in 2007.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board unanimously voted to approve a memorandum of understanding between Carbon County and the Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau that supports the grant initiatives in Carbon County. The memorandum of understanding also authorizes the release of $60,000 from the Hotel Room Excise Tax fund for the county's tourism grant.

A total of 19 nonprofit organizations will benefit from the ongoing grant during this round of funding. The county distributes the grant twice a year.

To date, Carbon County has distributed approximately $350,000 to nonprofit organizations to help promote tourism.

The county receives a total of 50 percent of the hotel tax. Of the 50 percent, Carbon County receives 20 percent, which it uses for improvements to Mauch Chunk Lake Park; 28 percent is put into the grant fund; and 2 percent goes toward administration fees.

The remaining 50 percent goes to the Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau.

This grant round's recipients are:

Ÿ Lake Harmony Volunteer Fire Company: $10,000 for various projects to promote the 2011 Pennsylvania State Fireman's Convention.

Ÿ Wildlife Information Center: $600 for brochures and travel maps.

Ÿ Lehighton Bike Night: $1,000.

Ÿ Jim Thorpe Earth Day: $500.

Ÿ St. Patrick's Day Parade, Jim Thorpe: $2,000

Ÿ Jim Thorpe Rotary Club: $500 for the annual ghost walks.

Ÿ Big Creek Grange: $400.

Ÿ Ukrainian Homestead: $1,000 for the Folk Festival.

Ÿ Concourse Club of Palmerton: $800 for an art show.

Ÿ Carbon County Fair: $4,000.

Ÿ Lehighton Chamber of Commerce: $500.

Ÿ United Way of Carbon County: $1,000 for the Fourth Annual Cruise to the Music.

Ÿ Panther Valley Creek Foundation, doing business as No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum: $2,500 for the Miner's Festival.

Ÿ Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce: $8,000.

Ÿ Carbon County Chamber of Commerce: $20,000.

Ÿ Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce: $1,200 for Olde Time Christmas.

Ÿ Palmerton Festival Corporation: $3,000.

Ÿ Weatherly Hill Climb: $2,000.

Ÿ Weissport Redneck Festival: $1,000.

The Carbon County Hotel Excise Tax, which includes a 3 percent tax on room rentals in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and resorts in the county, was signed by the commissioners in February 2007.

The tax had been under negotiation since 2004, when commissioners voted down Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau's original proposal of a 20 percent revenue return on the money the tax would generate. They eventually negotiated the 50 percent revenue return to the county.

Nonprofit organizations wishing to learn more about the grant can contact the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce, located at 110 N. Third St., Suite 216, Lehighton, or visit http://carboncountypa.org.