Positive tone set for tourism tax

By REGGIE ROSS
Staff Writer

If the tone of Tuesday’s public meeting about a proposed new tourism tax bill has anything to do with it, Grenada will be the next town in Mississippi to add a new sports complex.
Approximately 80 people were in attendance at the JAS Cuff Building at the first public forum concerning the upcoming tourism tax referendum to build a sports complex.
The forum consisted of a mixed group of people that ranged from local businessmen and politicians, parents, grandparents, sporting officials to others who simply wanted to be informed about the possible one percent increase on restaurants and hotels.
The crowd seemed more curious about the proposed Sports Complex, a rising trend of multi-sport complexes filled with state-of-the-art fields in hopes of drawing not only tournaments for kids crazy about sports, but also parents who spend big on transportation, hotels, food and family entertainment.
At the start of the meeting, 110 chairs had been placed, giving everyone inside the option of a seat.
Grenada Tourism Director Gary Worsham took the floor first and explained various issues involving the current and proposed tax. He was followed by a description of the bill from City Manager Trey Baker, and the presentation was closed out by Matthew Harrison, executive director for the Grenada Economic Development District, who discussed overall economic development.
Worsham told the public that the idea of the sports complex came when he and other leaders met with the Mississippi Development Authority, an agency that he said praised Grenada for its location.
“The sports complex came about as something that would leverage tourism in Grenada,” Worsham said. “The tourism division with the MDA is really impressed with Grenada.”
When Baker took the floor he addressed what he called negativity that was being discussed prior to the meeting. He said the forum was informative to those with questions.
“We all know the stats, we’re right in the center of North Mississippi, and we want to double-down on what we do,” Baker said. “I am not a baseball and soccer guy; it’s not about sports. For me it’s all about revenue. Not about what controls what, but the money, and new sales tax revenue.”
Grenadians will vote on a referendum once an election date is set by the city council.

Grenada Tourism Director Gary Worsham shows how much money has been collected from the current tourism tax in recent years.