Heritage foundation provides grant for historic Black school building

This file photo shows the partially rebuilt Fairview — E.S. Brown school campus.

Cave Spring and Cedartown are among the 13 communities that will share more than $75,000 in tourism product development funds through an Explore Georgia grant.

Joyce Perdue-Smith, chairman of the Fairview-E.S. Brown Heritage Corp., said the historic African-American school in Cave Spring received $8,000 to help enhance access to the restored school grounds off Padlock Mountain Road.

The funds will be used to build an ADA-compliant ramp, sidewalks and porches.

Perdue-Smith said the organization decided to apply for the grant after being included in an Economic Development Assessment of the Cave Spring area performed by state officials for the city a year ago.

Edward Guzman, assistant city manager in Cedartown, said his city received $7,000 to purchase a mobile stage and lighting.

“The portable stage will allow us to enhance our outdoor festivals and concerts,” Guzman said. “If we are still dealing with this virus into 2021, then the portable stage will also allow the performing arts center to hold outdoor events where we can space out people better.”

The portable stage and lighting equipment will also be used by the Cedartown Performing Arts Center for their shows/concerts.

The catalyst for Cedartown getting the grant was a visit by the state’s tourism product development resource team in 2018 that was brought in by the Polk County Chamber of Commerce. The group presented a report with a number of ideas for the county to enhance tourism, which allowed the cities in the county to be eligible for the Explore Georgia grant.

The grant is a one-for-one matching grant, meaning each group will have to match its total grant allocation in order for it to be approved. Guzman said Cedartown is prepared for that, with the total cost of the project about $17,000.

The tourism division of the state’s Department of Economic Development announced the awards Aug. 20.The program helps communities boost their appeal as a tourist destination and leverage that as a driver of economic impact.

“While Georgia’s tourism industry has felt the painful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, by providing funding for these 13 projects the tourism product development grants will support the safe recovery of the industry throughout the entire state,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson.

“Like any business, a healthy tourism business is one that’s growing in quality and quantity of product worthy of being marketed and promoted,” said Deputy Commissioner of Tourism Mark Jaronski. “Funding is essential to advance many of these projects, and we take great pride in helping Georgia’s communities, especially rural areas, use the power of tourism to attract visitor spending, create jobs, support businesses and generate tax revenues.”

The recommendations and financial support provided through this funding program are designed to spur tourism development activities at the local level that enhance the visitor experience.

Other recipients of the 2021 Tourism Product Development Community Funding Program are:

6th Cavalry Museum African American WAC Mural – Fort Oglethorpe

African American Cultural Center – Brunswick

Banner & Cemetery – Randolph County

Centennial Trail & City Park – Twin City

Chickamauga Canoe Launch Park – Catoosa County

River Water Trail – Meriwether County

Historic District & Trail Signage – Dallas

Madison Morgan Conservancy’s Madison Morgan Meander Bike Tour – Madison

Mulberry Riverwalk Signage – Braselton

Wayfinding – Hawkinsville

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