Working to make Franklin a destination for travelers, members of the Tourist Development Authority discussed several grant proposals and events that are in the works for 2011 at their last meeting held in January.
The TDA offers grants to help develop tourism in Franklin by supporting groups or persons wanting to host an event and by promoting these events with advertising displayed on seven billboards leased by the TDA.
In new business, several grant requests were discussed including those made by Downtown Revitalization planners, the Appalachian Trail committee, and the Quilt Trail Festival committee. Discussion also included plans to advertise the Rotary Run and an update on plans for Franklin’s first international motorcycle rally to be held in late August.
According to Franklin City Planner and TDA member, Michael Grubermann, grant requests that were approved included $3,000 for the 3rd annual April Fools Trail Days, two billboards to promote the Rotary Ruby Ride and Run and $1,500 plus one billboard for the Quilt Trail’s “Airing of the Quilts” for Mother’s Day weekend. Billboards that are included in a grant request cost the TDA $250 monthly rental and a one-time cost for signage of $109 (one billboard), $181 (two billboards) for the duration of the event being advertised.
The finance committee report included room occupancy tax revenue and expenditures for the fiscal 2010 calendar from July to December. The expenditures shown are for grants that were awarded , monthly rental for seven billboards (Allison Outdoor), and signage for billboards (Associated Posters). Figures for January, 2011 are not included.
Fiscal 2010 calendar from July to December Expenditures
Reserve Carryforward $38,592.00
2009-2010 Carryforward $60,502.96
7/31/2010 Room Tax $14,609.25
8/31/2010 Room Tax $10,802.81
9/30/2010 Room Tax $9,825.43
10/31/201 Room Tax $13,997.93
11/30/2010 Room Tax $5,868.77
12/31/2010 Room Tax $4,501.02
Net Collections: $120,108.17
Less Reserve $14,901.00
Less Disbursements: July, 2010 to Dec., 2010
Allison Outdoor Advertising $10,500.00
Associated Posters, Inc. $399.35
Franklin Main Street Program* $2,250.00
Macon County Quilt Trail*$750.00
Franklin Main Street Program* $3,500.00
Total Disbursements $19,149.35
In other new business, Bill Van Horn, of the Nantahala Hiking Club, gave a report on the hiker survey and Tony Angel presented ideas on electronic marketing opportunities in the Atlanta area.
“If anyone has any ideas to promote tourism for the area, they can come to a TDA meeting and present their idea for consideration,” said TDA member Ron Haven.
TDA chairman Candy Presley added, “People can approach the TDA for grants as long as it promotes tourism.”
“The hospitality business is growing in Macon County,” continued Haven. “We don’t want to be a tourist trap that just stops tourists on their way through. Our goal is to have Franklin become a destination that people head for when they leave home.”
Plans for the upcoming motorcycle rally were high on the list of TDA members. The event is being promoted as a rally for all bike groups. “Not just Harleys, Gold Wings or crotch rockets, but all bike groups,” Presley said.
“We have many different bike groups coming to Macon County at different times of the year. This is one way to get them together to meet other bike groups,” Haven added. “Bike groups come from all over the United States and overseas just to come to ride in our mountains. This bike rally is something that could draw a lot of business. It will be a great event and will be a boost to our local economy.”
“They don’t come just for a day or two, they come for a week to ride the roads,” said Presley. “They will be staying in our hotels and campgrounds, eating in our restaurants and being entertained. We have a lot more to offer than in years past.”
“We are talking to several interested parties to host the rally,” Haven said. “We are scouting to find the best organization to host it. We have information on different groups that could host the rally. What we are looking for is who will do the best job for Franklin. The organization that will get to host the bike rally will have to have proof of what they have done somewhere else. We want to see some results and get references and recommendations from other people before we make the final decision.”
The upcoming gun show was also discussed. Billed as the Third Gem Capitol Gun Show, it will be held at the Macon County Community Facilities Building in Franklin during the weekend of Feb. 26 and 27. Up to 75 vendors, hobbyists and collectors will be selling and displaying firearms from vintage rifles to personal defense side arms.
The TDA’s next meeting will not be held at its regularly scheduled second Monday of the month on Feb. 14 because of Valentine’s Day. Instead, TDA members will meet for a retreat to discuss goals for the future on Feb. 19, starting at 9 a.m., in the Franklin Town Hall.