This summer, the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority is in the process of accepting applications for the first round of funding for the Tourism Capital project. The TCPF gives community stakeholders the opportunity to apply for the money generated from the county residence tax to fund projects that improve the community experience for tourists and residents alike.
“It’s been a conversation that’s been going on since about 2012,” JCTDA director Nick Breedlove told the Jackson County Commission in February.
Legislation allowing certain travel agencies to increase up to one-third of their total revenue for tourism-related expenses comes from North Carolina House of Representatives Bill 96, passed in 2011. By law, tourism-related expenses are intended to increase the use of the accommodation, meetings, or conferences in the County, or to attract tourists or business travelers to the County. This term includes the capital costs associated with tourism.
Capital projects include things like conference centers and convention centers; arenas and stadiums; athletic facilities; performing arts venues; museums; parks; green paths; trails; public art; visitor centers and road signs.
The idea behind this type of spending is that by funding capital projects, tourism bureaus increase housing demand, local spending, and visitor satisfaction, thereby bringing more money into the county.
“Leveraging visitor occupancy taxes on capital projects for the benefit of our local residents and communities is a great idea. I am strongly in favor of reinvesting dollars back into our cities and communities,” Breedlove said.
JCTDA started developing the capital project app in 2020 by researching best practices in other countries. The application was reviewed by the JCTDA Product and Experience Development Committee, the Visitor Experience Committee, the Magellan Strategy Group, and the District’s legal and finance departments.
“One of our goals is to finance projects with a useful life of 10 years or more or new construction, expansion or renovation, the total cost of which is at least $25,000; or a major maintenance or rehabilitation project worth more than $25,000,” Breedlove said.
When Breedlove presented the TCPF to the Jackson County Commission in February, Commissioner Gail Woody asked if the county could apply for these funds to complete projects. According to Breedlove, the county can apply for funds, and the appropriate county department is the applicant.
During fiscal year 2021-22, JCTDA committed $500,000 to TCPF. However, since this money was not used during the fiscal year ending June 30, applications for this funding cycle are not accepted until August. 1 – This money is carried over to fiscal year 2022-2023. An additional $250,000 will be committed in the upcoming fiscal year, with a total of $750,000 available in fiscal year 2022-23 for capital projects through the tourism fund. This…