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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana plans to use federal pandemic relief money to raise its tourism profile.

President Biden’s relief bill included a half-billion dollars to help the travel and tourism industry bounce back. Indiana’s share is $5.6 million, and the state plans the kind of tourism marketing campaign it’s long talked about but never done.

Indiana Destination Development Secretary Elaine Bedel says it’s not that people have a negative image of Indiana — the agency’s focus groups indicate people don’t have an image of the state at all. She says that’s an obstacle to attracting skilled workers who want to know why they should move to the state.

The state had been working with a marketing agency on developing the messaging for an ad campaign. The American Rescue Plan money would expand the ability to spread that message.

The relief bill allows states to spend the tourism dollars on infrastructure, job training, marketing or economic development planning. Bedel says a committee of stakeholders concluded putting the money into marketing would make the biggest impact, elevating Indiana’s entire range of tourist attractions from state parks to museums.

The Department of Commerce needs to approve the plan — that decision’s expected in a few weeks. Assuming the department gives the green light, Bedel says a new campaign could debut early next year.