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County mayors agree on tourism program

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A roundtable discussion with all four county mayors is good evidence that Wilson County could become something it never was - a bonafide tourist destination. And the plan could net serious money for the county government and each municipality.

On Tuesday morning, the county and city leaders met with the Government Relations Committee for the Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce to discuss Wilson County Tourism Development Pilot. The goal of WCTDP, a plan spearheaded by Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead, is to increase tourism revenue with the development and construction of recreational venues.

The plan calls for the county and each city to designate an individual tourism district consisting of 250 acres for a countywide total of 1,000 acres. New property tax dollars generated within each Tourism Development District will be used to develop projects including sports complexes, indoor competition facilities and funds to attract major events to Wilson County.

Mayor Craighead insisted that the revenue generated would be a win-win for the county and each city.

"We can come together as a group to start something that will benefit the future of our county and each city," Craighead said. "This is not going to happen overnight but, it's putting the foundation into place so we can move forward and start collecting those dollars so each board can decide how to spend that money that's best for their city."

All three city mayors and Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto were in agreement on moving forward. But Mt Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty says it's important to act when a good plan is presented.

"We talk about tourism and talk about tourism. But we've never had a vehicle to do anything. This is the first time I thought we could really put some dollars behind a tourist effort. Mt Juliet is all in."

On Thursday, Craighead will attend the county budget meeting to ask for their support. If the budget committee votes to approve the plan, they will then send it to the county commission. If the county commission approves the plan, the land for the county and cities individual tourism district will be selected. Once the land is selected each city council will meet in order to approve the land locations.

Writer Becky Andrews may be contacted at

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