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Tourism bureau works to package' local attractions

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
July 21, 2001
Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau officials hope a black heritage brochure to be released this summer will help solve a funding problem on a much larger project.
Director Allison Beasley learned in March that the bureau's $48,000 grant request to create an African-American Heritage Trail had been turned down.
Plans for the trail are now on hold, she said.
The brochure will be printed this week and released by the end of the summer. It will be distributed to state welcome centers, people who organize and book tour groups and local hotels and restaurants, she said.
The bureau's marketing committee could decide to seek private donations, but "really hasn't looked at that yet," Beasley said.
Meanwhile, black heritage could be included in a tourism bureau campaign designed by Leading Edges Marketing designed to give Meridian an identity.
Beasley said African-American history is an important part of Meridian and Lauderdale County's culture and heritage.
Beasley said part of the job of tourism officials is educating the community to help promote attractions, better defining what the area has to offer and "sometimes creating more things to offer."
Beasley said Meridian's downtown could be a big attraction, especially since Meridian has architecture unlike any that remains standing in most other cities. She said the area has great outdoors attractions, and state parks and campgrounds should be better promoted.
The secret is finding a way to "package" it all.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.