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Tourism product development funds awarded to 11 Georgia communities

Dublin to build monument honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

ATLANTA, Sept. 2, 2015 – The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) has awarded $130,000 in product development agreements to 11 tourism and art entities across the state. Georgia Tourism and the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) have partnered for the past three years in order to continue to maximize the state’s Tourism Product Development program.

“Georgia’s heritage and cultural attractions, destinations and events are among the most popular reasons travelers choose to visit our state,” said Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Tourism division. “With the creation of these new tourism offerings, Georgia can provide new options for visitors to improve their vacation experience, and also give them more reasons to return.”

The Tourism Product Development Agreement program was designed to financially support tourism and cultural development activities at the local level that maintain and create jobs, attract tourists, and enhance the visitor experience. The Georgia Department of Economic Development received 63 applications for the 2016 Tourism Product Development program amounting to more than $725,041 in requests.

“The Tourism Product Development program supports the projects of local communities by giving them the additional resources needed to support and cultivate their local arts-based tourism assets,” said Karen Paty, executive director of Georgia Council for the Arts. “From this funding each community can increase public access to high quality arts and cultural offerings that bring communities together and provide the unique offerings that tourists are seeking.”

Recipients of the 2016 Tourism Product Development recipients include:

  • City of Dublin
  • City of Statesboro
  • Milledgeville Baldwin County Development Authority
  • City of Griffin Downtown Development Authority
  • City of LaGrange
  • Jekyll Island Authority
  • McIntosh County Industrial Development Authority
  • Oconee River Greenway Authority
  • Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)
  • City of Toccoa
  • City of Cedartown

Georgia Tourism’s Product Development team assists private for-profit, non-profit and local governments by providing resources and financial assistance to develop tourism product across Georgia.

The Georgia Council for the Arts provides support for nonprofit arts organizations throughout the state. Established in 1965 as the Georgia Commission on the Arts, its mission is to encourage excellence in the arts, support the arts’ many forms of expressions and make the arts available to all Georgians by providing funding, leadership, programming and other services.

Dublin will use the tourism product development funds to build phase one of the monument at First African Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his first public speech at the age of 15.

“Receiving this funding from Georgia’s Product Development team is the realization of a dream that began when a young boy began his journey to greatness in Dublin,” said Rebecca McWilliam, Visit Dublin GA. “Our thanks to the many people involved in developing this project, from Scott Thompson with the Laurens County Historical Society who first discovered Dr. King made the speech in Dublin to the City of Dublin, the Dublin Downtown Development Authority, the leadership at First African Baptist Church, to the individuals who donated towards the monument.”

“Georgia Tourism is very excited about the scope of this project. Dublin-Laurens County is a forerunner in developing tourism product. We look forward to working with them to promote visitation to this jewel in the crown of the state’s African-American heritage,” said Beda Johnson, Tourism Division Director, GDEcD.

Construction of the monument will begin shortly. For more information on the project and to donate towards the monument visit or contact Visit Dublin GA at 478-272-4002.