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Tulsa Route 66 commission launches matching grant program for events

Max Bryan
The Route 66 pedestrian bridge and sign is seen in downtown Tulsa.

Area officials hope a grant program to host events along Route 66 will not only improve commerce along Tulsa’s stretch of America’s mother road, but also throughout the city.

On Tuesday, city councilor Jeannie Cue announced a matching grant program for businesses and property owners along the Tulsa region’s 28 miles of Route 66. They’ll be able to apply for matching $5,000 grants to cover event expenses ranging from safety to marketing costs.

Tulsa Route 66 commission chairwoman Samantha Extance said she hopes the grant will be used by businesses and property owners in areas that currently don’t get much attention.

"Right now, we see a lot of events in the Tulsa Market District, in the Medical District, on Route 66 Main Street — not as much out east, where there isn't as much organization. So we're hoping that this inspires businesses to come together, and to work together and collaborate," Extance said.

The program will run through the city's planning department. The mayor will sign off on all events that come through the program.

In a Vision Tulsa news release, Mayor GT Bynum said the program will build on the success of of the Route 66 Neon Sign program. The sign program has awarded $303,000 to Route 66 stakeholders.

Like the sign program, Extance said the commission will consider adding more money to the grant fund if the program proves successful. The grant program currently has $25,000 in its fund.

Cue said the program will in turn increase sales taxes in Tulsa from visitors traveling to the city. She said this is especially important in Oklahoma, which practically depends entirely on sales taxes for government operations at all levels.

In the news release, Extance said the new program will help make the city’s stretch of the Mother Road the best it can be for its centennial birthday in 2026.

"Route 66 has been so important to Tulsa from the beginning, since they built the bridge that allowed us to get Route 66," Cue said. "We've got people that travel from all over the world to come here."

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.