RV campground planned for Milan City Park
By Steve Short
A campground for recreational vehicles is planned for Milan City Park, following the announcement that Milan will receive a $50,000 Tourism Enhancement Grant from the state.
The RV area would be located near the saddle club arena and Hwy 104 and would initially accommodate up to five vehicles, providing hookups for electricity, water and sewer, said Roger Smith, Director of Milan Parks and Recreation and Public Works. He hopes to begin construction this summer.
On Jan. 19, Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Com. Randy Boyd announced that 29 communities, including Milan, will receive more than $1 million in Tourism Enhancement Grants to assist with tourism infrastructure assets.
“We want to congratulate the 29 communities that will be receiving Tourism Enhancement Grants,” Haslam said. “Tourism is an important part of our state economy, and these grants showcase how tourist development and economic development work together to make our state not only a great place to live and work, but a top tourist destination. With the assistance of these grants each community will be able to grow and enhance their local tourism assets.”
The grants are intended to help counties and cities improve local assets to increase the economic impact of tourism, said officials. This is second round of the Tourism Enhancement Grant program. In July, nearly $1 million was awarded to 29 communities during the first round of tourism grants.
Tourism Enhancement Grants are funded through the Rural Economic Opportunity Act, which is designed to improve the economic indicators in rural communities across Tennessee. Announcements will follow this spring for Site Development Grants, Main Street Entrepreneur Grants and Asset-Enhancement Grants for distressed communities.
The Gibson Co. Tourism Committee endorsed the application of Milan submitting a grant to fund an RV park at Milan City Park, said Julie Allen Burke, Milan Chamber of Commerce executive.
“The intent is to spur future RV locations in Gibson County to fill the gap of the growing need for RV camping facilities in West Tennessee,” she said. “This opportunity is not currently available in Gibson Co. or adjacent counties.”
Research by the county Tourism Committee for the grant included the following findings:
· U.S. ownership of RVs has reached record levels, according to a 2011 Univ. of Michigan study commissioned by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Approximately 8.9 million households own an RV.
· Today’s typical RV owner is 48 years old, married, with an annual household income of $62,000 — higher than the median for all households, according to the study. RV owners are likely to own their homes and spend disposable income on traveling an average of three weeks annually, research shows.
· A leading force behind RV ownership’s upswing is the enormous baby boomer generation, supported by strong ownership gains among younger and older buyers. High RV ownership rates now extend across a 40-year span from age 35-to-75, the Michigan study found.
· More than 11 percent of U.S. households headed by 35-to-54 year olds own an RV, exceeding the 9.3 percent ownership rates of those 55 and over. The 35-to-54 age group posted the largest gains in the 2011 Michigan survey. (Source: rvia.org)
“The addition of the RV Park will benefit Milan and Gibson Co. by capitalizing on this growing trend and spur other RV campground projects across the county,” said Ms. Burke. “Additional revenue will be measured and reported by the City of Milan for the revenue generated by rental of campsites. Offering an additional popular option for tourists to stay overnight will attract a different kind of tourist than ones who prefer hotels. It will also increase our overall sales tax consumption by the additional food, gas, and other various purchases related to travelers.”
Roger Smith said Milan receives inquiries and requests for RV campsites in the area.
“There were many people that worked hard to get this grant,” said Milan Mayor B.W. Beasley. “A special thanks goes out to the Mayor’s Health Council / Achieve Team. We are always looking for ways to bring more people to Milan and have them stay longer to shop in our businesses. This grant achieves that goal!”
“This grant opportunity came to us late last year (2016),” added Gibson Co. Commissioner Sandra Moss, a member of the Tourism Committee. “We have several projects that could benefit from this grant, but we chose to create/build an RV camping facility in the Milan area. We hope that this will encourage more visitors to explore our county and spend time here. I am very grateful to Julie Burke and the others who worked to put this grant application together. Anything that benefits a community in our area benefits us all, and camping facilities are seriously lacking until now.”