(Johnston County, NC) -- On August 5, 2015, eight Tourism Capital Grant applications were approved by the Johnston County Tourism Authority for a total of $70,700 in funding.  The Special Projects Committee reviewed all applications, and made a recommendation to the full board that each project receive a percentage of funds requested, based on the grant application guidelines, eligibility, grant scores, and the projected timeline for completion of the project.

“Since 1987, when the Johnston County Tourism Authority was created, investing in the development of the tourism infrastructure of the county has been part of the organization's vision,” stated Donna Bailey-Taylor, President/CEO, "from the first board of directors until the present board, the commitment to support festivals and events with marketing funds, and capital grant money for bricks and mortar projects remains strong."

Over the many years of supporting tourism projects around the county, over $1 million dollars of occupancy tax money has been utilized to build auditoriums, develop new museums, lighting along I-95 interchanges, install gardens, renovate historic buildings, and many other projects.  For more information on the Johnston County Tourism Authority list of capital grant recipients 1987-2015 – http://www.johnstoncountync.org/working-with-the-jcvb/grants-programs/194-jcvb-capital-grants-program.

The 2016 grant recipients and description of grant projects are as follows:

Benson Parks and Recreation Department - $16,000
Grant funds will be used to assist in the construction of a field house at the Dr. PK Vyas
Community Park to include restrooms, concession stand, score boxes, and park storage.

Archer Lodge Community Center - $4,200
The project will consist of the purchase and installation of scoreboards for the athletic fields, one baseball field and three soccer fields at the Archer Lodge Community Center. 

Clayton Cultural Arts Foundation - $4,000
This project is a continuation of lighting upgrades started in 2013 to install LED lighting out to the front of the house location which is situated over the audience producing front light on the stage at The Clayton Center.

Friends of Bentonville Battlefield - $10,000
Grant funds will be used for the expansion and improvements of the interpretive trails to include informative panels, markers, and parking area along the historic driving pull-offs at Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site.

Ava Gardner Museum - $10,000
Grant funds will be used for construction of  a new glass exhibit case for the museum library.  The new case will allow the museum to showcase more items for visitors and rotate collections and loans for longer periods of time for display.

Smithfield Recreation & Aquatic Center - $8,800
Funds from the grant would go to revitalize and renovate the soccer and baseball fields at Smithfield Community Park, including grading, irrigation and drainage repair to provide quality playing surfaces needed to host tournaments and advanced play. 

Town of Clayton Parks & Recreation - $8,000
The Town of Clayton is the terminus of the Mountains to the Sea Trail, which stretches more than 50-miles from Clayton through Raleigh, and beyond.  The town will upgrade two trailheads with bicycle and pedestrian facilities and install signage to make visitors aware of the opportunities surrounding them in Johnston County. 

Tobacco Farm Life Museum - $9,700
The TFLM will complete capital improvements in order to make the museum more accessible to group tours.  The grant funds will be used to open up the museum lobby to accommodate group tours, rentals, and community activities.

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The Johnston County Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the entire county.  The bureau’s mission is to attract and serve visitors to the county, therefore, increasing visitor spending for area tourism-related businesses. For more information, contact Donna Bailey-Taylor at 919-989-8687, email dbtaylor@johnstoncounty.org, or visit the Johnston County Visitors Bureau website at www.johnstoncountync.org