The Tourists Are Coming, The Tourists Are Coming!

No! The tourists are here! The opening of the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit, “Hometown Teams – How Sports Shape America” and “Berrien County’s Hometown Teams Sports Exhibit” on Saturday, August 4th former Berrien County players as well as those interested in the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit were on hand to take a look at these very impressive exhibits.

The last day of the Smithsonian exhibit, Saturday, September 24, will also be the date of the annual Harvest Festival which will bring additional tourists to Nashville.

If you read my Chamber Chat article last month, I explained tourism is one of the world’s largest industries and why tourism is considered economic development.

With two really big events happening in Berrien County during August and September, we really need to roll out the “Red Carpet” for those visitors, oops, I mean tourists that are going to be in our county for the next few weeks! As I was travelling about the City of Nashville through various communities and areas, I noticed some things we should be concerned about since company is coming. You know when you have company, you always spruce up everything and make sure your home is extra clean. There were a few areas that could use a good cleaning and at least some litter on the roadways needs to be picked up if we want to make a great impression. Why, you might be saying to yourself, should I be doing it when the city and county have workers to do this! Well, the main reason is when these tourists come into this community, there is always a possibility they are looking for a nice community in which to start a business or industry or to retire and believe you me, a town free from litter and trash looks much better than one cluttered with debris and looks unkempt. It could be that the paid workers are not aware of areas that could use a good cleaning. Think about this the next time you start to throw a paper cup or sandwich wrapper out of your car window.

The tourists visiting Nashville will bring with them money – money to shop with, money to eat with and perhaps money to spend the night. Tourism is not a second class citizen within the Economic Development world but is very vital. Its many beneficiaries are transportation, accommodations, food service, attractions, events and retail sales. The money spent in any of these areas have a significant trickle-down effect on our local economy

Tourism is sustainable economic development. It creates local jobs, creates state and local taxes, creates worker income and creates sustainable jobs that will never be exported. Tourism provides tax relief to every household. Every Georgia household benefits from state and local tax savings on an average of $518.00. This is additional revenue our county and cities can use for community services and infrastructure through our SPLOST when tourists come to town. Believe me, tourism is economic development. It is a very important part of the economic development puzzle. A well-rounded community has a diversified economic development portfolio which includes both tourism and traditional economic development.

So, as we welcome these tourists in the next few weeks, roll out the “Red Carpet” and dish out a good helping of Southern hospitality. After all these visitors are helping by providing each of us some significant tax relief which can be used to improve our community. Look around your neighborhood and business! Is there something simple you can do to improve the appearance of Nashville and Berrien County, say, something as simple as picking up trash and not littering our roadways?

Speaking of SPLOST, let’s take a look at our sales tax revenues for the month of July. Great news for the month of July with the LOST, SPLOST and ELOST sales tax revenues up for all municipalities as well as the county. Let’s break it down by municipalities and county for LOST – Alapaha – $3,799.73; Enigma – $3,801.13; Nashville – $22,453.13; Ray City – $4,888.91 and Berrien County – $76,813.47.  SPLOST – Berrien County Board of Commissioners – $111,356.80.  ELOST – Berrien County Board of Education – $112,766.49.

With the influx of tourists expected in town during the remainder of August and into September, we should see a definite increase. So let’s continue to Buy Berrien! If you have any questions, concerns or ideas for the Chamber, give me a call and let’s chat.