UC counties receive tourism enhancement grants

J. Cumby Construction recently completed work on a pedestrian bridge in Sparta.

UPPER CUMBERLAND – A pair of Upper Cumberland counties will receive a total of $100,000 to assist with tourism infrastructure assets. The moneys were announced Thursday by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd. In all, 29 communities will receive more than $1 million.

White County and Van Buren County each received a $50,000 award. The funds, per a state-issued press release, will be used to “improve local assets to increase the economic impact of tourism.” This is second round of the Tourism Enhancement Grant program. In July, nearly $1 million was awarded to 29 communities during a first round.

Fentress County, Smith county, the town of Gainesboro, and the cities of Lafayette, McMinnville and Livingston were among those designated last year.

“Tourism is an important part of our state economy,” Haslam said, “and these grants showcase how tourist development and economic development work together to make our state not only a great place to live and work, but a top tourist destination. With the assistance of these grants each community will be able to grow and enhance their local tourism assets.”

The Tourism Enhancement Grants are funded through the Rural Economic Opportunity Act, which is designed to improve the economic indicators in rural communities across Tennessee. Announcements will follow this spring for site development grants, Main Street entrepreneur grants and asset-enhancement grants for distressed communities.

An advisory committee made up of staff from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture selected the 29 communities from a pool of 50 grant applications.

“Tourist development and economic development have a great partnership with a common goal: making sure Tennessee and the communities across the state are able to succeed and grow,” Boyd said. “With these grants, each participating community has shown that they are investing in economic development and the future growth in our state.”

White County’s boosts four museums and over 100 miles of paddleable water, and top tourist attractions include Virgin Falls, Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness, Burgess Falls and Rock Island State Park. Fall Creek Falls straddles the Van Buren county line. Isha – a yoga retreat – also brings thousands to town each year.

The grants awarded include:

  • Anderson County – $50,000
  • Benton County – $50,000
  • Bledsoe County – $10,000
  • Campbell County – $47,605
  • Carter County – $20,000
  • Cocke County – $20,000
  • Coffee County – $50,000
  • Dyer County, City of Dyersburg – $50,000
  • Fayette County – $10,000
  • Gibson County, City of Milan – $50,000
  • Grundy County – $20,000
  • Henry County, City of Paris – $32,900
  • Houston County – $50,000
  • Jefferson County, Town of Dandridge – $50,000
  • Lauderdale County, Town of Halls – $50,000
  • Lawrence County – $45,000
  • Marion County – $10,000
  • Marshall County, City of Lewisburg – $50,000
  • McNairy County – $50,000
  • Perry County – $20,000
  • Polk County – $20,000
  • Rhea County – $50,000
  • Sequatchie County – $10,000
  • Stewart County – $20,000
  • Sumner County – $30,000
  • Van Buren County – $50,000
  • Washington County, Town of Jonesborough – $50,000
  • Wayne County, City of Clifton – $47,500
  • White County – $50,000


Each application was supported by the community’s senator and representative in the Tennessee General Assembly.

“Arguably the only thing about this program more exciting than announcing the grant recipients is the opportunity it provides these communities,” Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett said. “The Tourism Enhancement Grants help enhance local tourism assets, which is an integral part of every county in Tennessee.”

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