CVB grants boost local marketing efforts

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Five popular local destinations are getting a little help in spreading the word about what they have to offer.

Above, the Kiwanis Club of Henry County receives their grant check. Special photo

The Henry County Convention and Visitors Bureau recently issued grants as part of a quarterly marketing program, which launched in June.

“We received a lot of wonderful applications for projects that have the potential to draw a whole new audience to Henry County,” says Jeff Mills, chairman of the Henry County CVB Board of Directors. “We believe that through this grant we can create strong partnerships that better position Henry County as a destination and we look forward to continuing this program.”

The Academy Theatre in Stockbridge and the Henry Arts Alliance received a combined $5,000 grant, the largest amount awarded through the program. Alliance President Lynna Schmidt says attracting people from outside the county for performances and events supports economic development in the area.

“With this grant and the support of the Henry County Convention and Visitors Bureau, we are better able to reach a wider audience and make them aware of the County’s outstanding artistic talent,” says Schmidt.

Southern Belle Farm in McDonough was also among the organizations that received grants, along with Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, and Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove and the Kiwanis Club of Henry County.

Southern Belle’s $1,600 grant was instrumental in launching its new, mobile-friendly website this week. Farm spokeswoman Ansley Glenn says the funds came just in time for its fall season, which starts Sept. 19.

“This is the 10th year that Southern Belle has been open as an agritourism destination in Henry County,” says Glenn. “We were thrilled that Henry CVB saw the benefit of Southern Belle Farm, the visitors it brings to Henry County and the investment the CVB is willing to make. We just want to continue opening our farm up to visitors, and we appreciate the Henry CVB’s support.”

AMS’s Director of Marketing and Promotion, Dustin Bixby, says the speedway’s $4,600 grant will help promote the Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama, set for April 16-17.

“We get cars from Tennessee, Florida and surrounding states to the track,” says Bixby. “We had about 1,000 out-of-state custom cars at the event last year. This will help us with some of our marketing efforts to attract more of those out-of-state car owners to the event.”

Kiwanis received $3,500 from the CVB as part of the grant program. The club’s Publicity Chair, Laura Turner, says those funds will help the group reach more people for the Kiwanis Henry County Fair, scheduled for Oct. 6-10 in McDonough.

“The grant is being used to improve our website’s mobile capabilities so that people can access information such as specials, schedules and directions,” says Turner. “We will also be using some of the funds to advertise through the Web and social media.”

The CVB awarded $1,130 to Noah’s Ark. Kay McCullough, director of marketing at the facility, says the grant funds will be used to expand advertising at its annual Fall Festival, set for Oct. 17.

“This festival gives people from different cultures, backgrounds and ethnicity a chance to mingle and get to know one another,” she says. “Most families look for a way to spend time together on the weekend that doesn't cost a lot of money; this festival will give them that opportunity. While at the festival visitors will also be able to tour the exotic animal habitats, giving them an opportunity to see wild animals and learn about the threats they face both in captivity and in the wild."

Applications for grants in the fourth quarter are due by Oct. 1. For more information, e-mail Laura Luker at lluker@henry or call 770-957-5786.