The effort to bring the Kit Jones from Biloxi, MS back home to McIntosh County for restoration and final placement just got one step closer.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s (GDEcD) Tourism division announced September 21st that it awarded more than $111,624 in product development resource team grants to 14 new and expanding tourism projects across the state. $10,000 of that funding will be applied towards transporting Kit Jones back to GA so that repairs and restoration may begin.
“Georgia’s tourism industry continues to be one of the state’s leading industries with an economic impact of $60 billion,” said Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner for tourism at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Tourism has a positive impact across the state, by spurring job creation, attracting investment and providing residents with an improved quality of life. The success of our industry relies on creation of new tourism product and the resource team grant helps activate these new developments.”
In an effort to further tourism product development within the state, Georgia Tourism offers this grant to communities who participated in the department’s Tourism Product Development Resource Team program as a way to build product outlined in the resource team’s reports. The Tourism Product Development Resource Team program works to evaluate a community’s potential for tourism growth and development through innovative and unique experiences based on a community’s local culture and heritage.
“We have a very unique example of local culture and heritage all wrapped into one very special historic vessel”, commented Laurie Poole, Secretary and Promotions for Friends of The Kit Jones. “She is a rare treasure and one quite worth the effort it will take to bring her home and restore her to her previous beauty.” Aside from the Friends of The Kit Jones Steeering committee, dozens of McIntosh residents have volunteered to get “hands on” with this project once she is back in GA.
“One of our main obstacles in spurring new tourism product is funding in the communities that receive a Tourism Product Development Resource Team,” said Cindy Eidson, Director of Tourism Product Development for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “By providing grants for projects that we recommend, we help to jump-start tourism development, not only expanding Georgia’s tourism offerings, but also creating jobs and sustainable economic development in these communities.”
“The excitement is growing now that we’re gaining traction; but our biggest hurdle is getting help for the over-the-road hauling of this 70 foot vessel,” said Poole. “All options have been considered; even water transport via tow or barge, but the integrity of The Kit’s hull will simply not warrant that method.”
“Being awarded the maximum we could get from this grant is a fantastic start”, stated Poole. “$10,000 will certainly help as we get the Kit stabilized for transport, but we have a long way to go.” Any one wishing to help with this project please contact us at https://www.facebook.com/RVKitJones/ or https://www.gofundme.com/research-vessel-kitjones
Article by Emily Murray, Georgia Department of Economic Development Supplemented and shared with permission by Laurie Poole, Friends of The Kit Jones