Brittney Raby – Staff Writer

Each year in Macon County, tourism generates $148.78 million in direct spending, $25.26 million in worker compensation and more than $18 million in combined state and local tax revenue. The tourism dollars that flow through Macon County can be largely attributed to outdoor recreation opportunities and as the county’s driving force behind economic growth, the Macon County Economic Development Commission (EDC) presented county commissioners with a resolution recognizing the town of Franklin’s recent designation by Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine as the 2015 Top Small Outdoor Town.

“Franklin being named a Top Town is a huge opportunity for our community,” said Macon County Commissioner Kevin Corbin. “As a county, we need to make the most of it while we can. Macon County is a fantastic place to live and work and this is our chance to tell the world about it. It is our way to promote one of the county’s most successful industries, why wouldn’t we want to take advantage of this marvelous opportunity?”

EDC board member Ken Murphy presented the resolution to commissioners at Tuesday’s March meeting and shared a video produced by the EDC touting the award that has already been shared on social media.

“This designation is truly a great accomplishment and is representative of many people’s hard work and dedication toward making our community the best,” said Macon County Manager Derek Roland. “Community initiatives like this, that are  driven by the community through an organic process is one of the many reasons why I am honored to be born and raised here.”

The resolution highlights the economic impact outdoor recreation generates across the United States – $646 billion in consumer spending annually; in North Carolina – $19.2 billion in consumer spending annually; and in Macon County – $148.78 million in direct spending.

“Macon County is centrally located within 2.5 hours from the three major metropolitan locations of Greenville S.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Charlotte, N.C., thereby positioning Macon County as a prime outdoor recreation destination,” declares the resolution.

The EDC’s resolution also noted that by winning the Top Town award, Franklin was featured in a November issue that was distributed up and down the East Coast.

“Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine averages 350,000 readers from Baltimore to Alabama and generates another 90,000 readers online, putting the town of Franklin and Macon County in the national spotlight; and WHEREAS the Macon County Board of Commissioners recognizes and supports the significant local economic impact and future growth potential for outdoor recreation within the county,” says the resolution.

Not only did the EDC’s resolution highlight the award, but requested to declare April 23 as “Top Town Day” to give the entire county the chance to not only celebrate being a Top Town, but to help create a supportive atmosphere intent on capitalizing on the award.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the award and being recognized as a leader in the outdoor industry than joining with the EDC to declare April 23 as Top Town Day in Macon County and encourage the community to get outside and get lost in our own backyard for the day,”  said Corbin.