Tourism Expansion in East Alabama
Through a grant agreement between the Appalachian Regional Commission and the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development (UACED), began working on tourism expansion in East Alabama in December of 2010. Collaboration with various economic development entities in a five county area of eastern Alabama: Clay, Coosa, Cleburne, Randolph, Talladega was established to develop and implement a strategy to increase tourism and heritage-based outdoor recreation throughout the region. By developing a regional task force of committed locals to work on tourism projects on a multi-county level, we are instilling a sense of regionalism that will help to alleviate the issue and provide a strong core for future growth.
UACED and East Alabama Tourism Partners utilized a wide range of community outreach to link the venues, amenities and services to support tourism on a regional level. A major goal of tourism expansion in East Alabama is to provide a collaboration of people and organizations that will help build relationships to enhance the local ability to increase civic engagement in planning of programs focusing on cultural, heritage and nature-based tourism. This database will be shared among the counties as a regional resource guide.
An inventory of tourism amenities served as the basis for the creation of the region-wide umbrella website: www.toureastalabama.com . The website was designed in an open-source format that can be provided to the tourism task force to update and maintain. The website includes a calendar module that will be helpful in promoting region-wide events and will be useful to remind each county of the events happening in their neighboring communities; fostering a stronger sense of regionalism and increasing their desire to work together. In addition to the regional website UACED developed a Facebook Page, e-newsletter and branding for Tour East Alabama.
In late 2012, the project area increased from five East Alabama counties to eight. These counties include: Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Randolph, Talladega and Tallapoosa. The regional databases for the multiple-county area have been continuously updated as the project is promoted and additional individuals are engaged and recruited to work on the project.
Local citizens from East Alabama region continue to work together regionally to increase tourism and heritage-based outdoor recreation. The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development is committed to continue the efforts to utilize the assets found in each of the counties to provide solutions to expand the tourism and cultural infrastructure. The methodology and format of the work performed to date has proved to be strong and flexible enough to adapt to the multiple counties involved. By working together, the counties will find that they can learn from each other and expand the region as a whole.