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 February 2007.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board unanimously voted to approve the release of funds under 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 authorizes the release of $45,000 from the Hotel Room Excise Tax fund for the county's tourism grant.

A total of 12 nonprofit organization projects 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 $400,000 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:

Lehighton Downtown Initiative Committee: $2,000.

Lehighton Franklin Lions Club: $1,000.

D&L National Heritage Corridor: $1,000.

Carbon County 4-H Development Fund: $1,000.

Jim Thorpe Rotary Club, ghost walks: $500.

Big Creek Grange: $400.

Ukrainian Homestead, Folk Festival: $2,000.

Concourse Club of Palmerton, art show: $500.

Carbon County Fair: $4,000.

Panther Valley Creek Foundation, DBA No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum, miner's festival: $2,500.

Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce: $8,600.

Carbon County Chamber of Commerce: $21,500.

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 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 a 50 percent revenue return to the county.

More information on how to apply for a hotel tax grant, nonprofit organizations who promote tourism can visit the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce office at 110 N. Third St., Suite 216, Lehighton; the Carbon County Commissioners' Office, located on the third floor of the courthouse annex, Jim Thorpe; or by visiting http://carboncountypa.org.