Marianna, Florida - July 22, 2011
"It's a good time to take advantage of every tool we have for economic development in Jackson County," said Jackson County T.D.C. Administrator Art Kimbrough.
When the county increased the bed tax to 4% in 2004, the T.D.C. began setting aside half that money to build a convention center. But in today's tough economy, officials realized the $1.1 million in that account is not enough.
Now, the T.D.C. wants to use all 4% of the bed tax collected from hotels in the county for economic development. Tourism Development officials also want to hire a full-time T.D.C. director, at an estimated salary of $60,000. The proposal also earmarks another $20,000 for the director's staff.
"Right now you've got a body of nine volunteers who are on the TDC, we here at the chamber are the administrators of that. But that doesn't give a dedicated way of developing the advertising, the media, the marketing, the messaging," said Kimbrough.
The T.D.C. hopes this proposal will help it better compete with other tourism hot spots in the Panhandle.
"They're going to be able to reach out and get the word out to the right places with the right message," said Kimbrough.
T.D.C. officials want to save the $1.1 million in convention center funds for other possible projects like building renovation or new construction.
The T.D.C. will finalize its budget with county commissioners next month.