The McCreary County Fiscal Court was awarded $9,200 from the Appalachian Regional Commission Flex-E-Grant program to recruit a business development consultant for the Trail Town Merchants.
According to the ARC the consultant would review businesses and make recommendations for improved business practices and marketing to support business development.
The grant, which would also include a 20 percent local match, will be used for the development of a study concerning local businesses and their ability to enhance the tourism experience for visitors.
Adam Philips, McCreary County’s Tourism Director stated he planned to meet with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Board and local entrepreneurs to develop a list of about 50 businesses that are related to tourism, or can impact tourism development.
That list would be presented to the consultant who would then visit with the businesses, such as restaurants, hotels and shops, to see how they operate. Then, issue recommendations on what could be added to enhance tourism efforts.
That could include added services, directed marketing or enhanced workforce training.
While the release is directly tied to the Stearns Trail Town initiative, and the Trail Town Merchants, Phillips said the study would include all of McCreary County, as the surrounding areas impact local tourism efforts as well.
Stearns was designated as a Trail Town last summer, and is considered a hub for trail, outdoor activities and tourism for McCreary County.
The Fiscal Court has advertised for proposals from prospective consultants for the project, with applications due by 4 p.m. on Friday.
According to the advertisement: “Consultants should have general knowledge of the Kentucky Tourism Industry, have expertise in business management and marketing, and be able to familiarize themselves with the specifics of the project and the McCreary County Tourism profile.”
In total, 20 projects will be funded through the 2016 ARC Flex-E-Grant program, with $175,000 in funding. The grants were awarded to economically distressed counties, as well as a non-profit economic development agency serving 45 counties in Kentucky.