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Tourism part of solution

Tourism, as pointed out in a story titled “Visits to county good for business” in our last Weekend edition, is an underrated part of our county’s economy.

Tourism-related businesses in Chilton County employ 575 people, according to the state of Alabama’s 2008 Travel and Economic Impact Report. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially considering the state of our national and local economies. Any job provided is something to rejoice over.

“We have something for everyone; from locally-grown produce to the Water Course, the grist mill and Lake Mitchell,” said Chilton County Chamber of Commerce executive director Pennie Broussard. “There are a lot of reasons, across the entire county, for people to make their visits to Chilton County.”

Just to provide an idea of how much local hotels bring in, consider they contributed more than $130,000 in 2008 to the state local lodging tax.

“We are booked nearly every weekend,” said Brandy Clackley, manager of GuestHouse Inn in Clanton.

Clackley also pointed out that visitors to the area contribute more than just the money they pay at the hotel desk when checking out.

“They shop here. They buy gas here. They buy ice here. They eat dinner here,” she said.

And Broussard said the value of one dollar spent by a visitor works its way through the local economy seven times.

It all adds up to an important aspect of our county’s economy—and one most of us probably don’t think much about.

The key to our county thriving now and in the future is bringing people in. New residents, of course, bring in much needed revenue, but we shouldn’t forget that people who visit just for the weekend can help us, also.