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McDuffie County reels in grant to lure national bass fishing event

The Thomson McDuffie County Tourism Department just reeled in a big one, and it's expected to grow.

On July 31, the Georgia Tourism Foundation awarded co-operative tourism marketing reimbursement grants, and Thomson was one of the 72 recipients.

"It is really good news," said Elizabeth Vance, the Thomson McDuffie County tourism director. "I'm glad we were able to secure the money to bring it here. It will make a big difference for everybody involved, so I'm glad we were able to do it."

This is the first year Thomson has applied for the grant, Mrs. Vance said. According to a press release from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, independent judges scored the applications based on several factors including project goals and objectives, benefits to the community, positive economic impact and the ability to attract and service visitors. Thomson received $14,790, which will be used to bring the Toyota Tundra Bass Master Weekend Series National Championship at Clarks Hill Lake Nov. 11-17.

The championship is part of a weekend series operated by the American Bass Anglers. The national championship will feature 225 boaters and 225 non-boater anglers who qualified through divisional championships to compete in the event. Mrs. Vance said bringing such a large event to the area is a collaborative effort between McDuffie, Columbia, Wilkes, Lincoln, and Warren Counties. The event will be held at Wildwood Park in Columbia County, but proceeds will overflow into the surrounding counties.

"How the road system is set up makes it much easier and closer for the boaters to come to Thomson motels than (those in Columbia County)," Epp Wilson, a tourism board member, said during the July tourism meeting.

And the influx will boost more than the private sector, with sales and hotel/motel taxes boosting the local governments. Sales tax dollars are used to fund projects such as new government and school buildings, fire and police equipment and road paving. Hotel/motel tax money goes directly back into funding more tourism within the county. The tourism board uses a portion of the money to attract events like fishing and softball tournaments that bring more visitors to McDuffie.

The Georgia Tourism Foundation was created in 2005 as a non-profit, public-private organization to pool resources and consolidate marketing efforts to more effectively promote Georgia's natural beauty and attraction to visitors. This year, the Foundation awarded $1.8 million in grants.

"It's something I hope we can get every year," Ms. Vance said.

Web posted on Thursday, August 09, 2007

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