Tourism Enhancement Grants awarded to 4 UC communities

$1 million awarded to assist 17 Tennessee communities with tourism infrastructure projects

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development today jointly announced17 Tennessee Communities will receive more than $1 million in the fifth round of Tourism Enhancement Grants. The two agencies partnered to assist counties and cities seeking to improve local tourism assets with a goal to attract more visitors to their areas. In 2018, visitors added $22 billion to boost Tennessee’s economy.

Upper Cumberland cities and counties receiving grants include Smithville, Fentress County, DeKalb County and Celina.

Tourism Enhancement Grants are designed for cities and counties seeking to invest in local tourism infrastructure assets. Eligible projects include stages, signage, enhancement to attractions or venues, park improvements and other resources that target expanding local tourism. 

“Tourism is vital to fuel economic development in Tennessee,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “These grants are especially important this year as we look to rebuild and restore our state’s tourism, particularly in Tennessee’s rural communities.”

Lee’s first executive order was to better serve rural communities. These tourism enhancement grants will address tourism needs for 8 at-risk and 6 distressed communities.  

“Tennessee has unparalleled outdoor beauty, waterways, fishing, boating and rural destinations rich with history, hidden gems and hospitality,” said Commissioner Mark Ezell, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “Our partnership with TNECD allows us to invest in unique projects that drive tourism and visitation, ultimately bringing more funds back into communities.”

“This partnership helps rural communities across the state bring their tremendous tourism assets into the spotlight and will help boost the state’s overall economic prosperity,” added Commissioner Bob Rolfe, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. 

The Tourism Enhancement Grant program, in its fifth round, is funded through the Rural Economic Opportunity Act, which is designed to improve the economic indicators in rural communities across Tennessee. Each application was supported by the community’s senator and representative in the Tennessee General Assembly.

The grants awarded include:

  • Decatur County 
  • Grundy County 
  • City of Smithville 
  • Morgan County 
  • Fentress County 
  • DeKalb County 
  • City of Lobelville 
  • City of Martin 
  • City of Wartburg 
  • City of Celina 
  • Union County 
  • Town of Cumberland Gap
  • City of Sweetwater
  • Anderson County Government
  • Greene County
  • Benton County 
  • Hamblen County

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