No applications for Jackson Tourism Capital Project Fund
The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority created its own Tourism Capital Project Fund this year. However, when the deadline came around for the first cycle of funding on Aug. 1, no applications had been submitted.
The Tourism Capital Project Fund’s purpose is to “provide leveraged investment in tourism projects that will increase visitation and attendant spending and overall economic impact for Jackson County.”
This allows a process through which stakeholders in the county can apply for money generated through tourism, by way of a room tax, to fund projects that improve the county for residents and tourists alike. By funding capital projects, tourism bureaus increase the demand for accommodations, local spending and visitor satisfaction, thereby bringing more money into a county.
According to the TDA, “the Tourism Capital Project Fund offers a level of financial support to create sustainable tourism development activities at the local level that maintain and/or create jobs, attract tourists, and enhance the visit experience.”
Capital projects include things like convention and conference centers; arenas and stadiums; sports facilities; performing arts venues; museums; parks; greenways; trails; public art; visitors centers and wayfinding signs.
Up for grabs this cycle was $500,000 which the TDA had allocated for the TCPF during fiscal year 2021-22. Because applications for the funds were not due until Aug. 1, that $500,000 was rolled over into fiscal year 2022-23. An additional $250,000 is being allocated this year for a total of $750,000 available in fiscal year 2022-23 for capital projects through the tourism fund.
In June, Jackson County TDA Executive Director Nick Breedlove told The Smoky Mountain News that any money not used during the summer cycle of TCPF would remain allocated for TCPF in an upcoming round of applications set for the new calendar year.
“We’d like to see this program continue to grow,” Breedlove told the county commission back in February. “We will scrutinize these projects to make sure they are really good fits, not just that we use up that pot of money. So if there is money left over from this fiscal year, we will roll it into next fiscal year.”
Future fiscal year allocations will depend on anticipated occupancy tax collections.
According to Breedlove, while there was interest in applying for the funds this cycle, several parties said that applying next year would be more feasible.
Earlier in the year, when the application and process for the Tourism Capital Project Fund was presented to the Jackson County Commission, Commissioner Gayle Woody asked Breedlove whether or not the county would be able to apply for funds. Breedlove told the commission that the county would be eligible to apply for funds, with the appropriate county department acting as the applicant.
In Haywood County, the Tourism Capital Project Fund application deadline ended on April 29, and nine applications were received from local municipalities and Lake Junaluska. The Haywood TDA had allocated $500,000 for the fund and awarded that money to five out of nine projects that submitted applications for the funds.