Now that “Race,” a biographical movie about Jesse Owens has been released, Gov. Robert Bentley has announced a $9,136 grant to help guide the anticipated increase in tourism to the north Alabama boyhood home of the Olympic sprinter and gold medalist.
Funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission will be used to install new directional highway signs to a museum and reconstructed childhood home of Owens in Oakville.,/p>
The Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association which was awarded the grant expects the movie will attract 10,000 additional visitors annually on top of the 25,000 to 40,000 yearly average to the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum and will generate more than $350,000 to the region’s economy in tourism dollars.
“The Jesse Owens story is truly fascinating, and it started right here in Alabama,” Bentley said. “I am pleased to announce this funding. I believe visitors will be amazed by what they see and learn.”
The grant, administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, will help fund six signs. The Alabama Department of Transportation will erect a sign on both the north- and south-bound lanes of Interstate 65 near the Jesse Owens Parkway (Alabama Highway 36) and signs in each direction marking the section of the Alabama Highway 36 named in his honor. Two signs will also be replaced on Alabama Highway 157.
In addition to increased visitation as a result of the movie, museum officials say they always expect a spike in tourism, including international visitors, in summer Olympic years. This year’s Summer Olympics will begin Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Bentley notified Tami L. Reist, president and CEO of Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, that the grant had been approved. Local matching funds of $9,136 have been pledged for the signage.
ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. Thirty-seven Alabama counties are part of the ARC area.
ADECA manages a range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.
Contact Jim Plott or Mike Presley