Dan Finnerty – Contributing Writer
The Town of Franklin Tourism Development Authority (TDA) met for its monthly meeting on Monday, May 8, in the Town boardroom. On the agenda this month was discussion regarding support requests for two August events happening in Franklin.
Dave Linn submitted a request on behalf of the Smoky Mountain Shrine Club and in support of the ninth annual ’80s Flashback Weekend in August. The event is scheduled for Aug. 4 and 5 and will include parades, an 8K race on the Greenway, and festivities at both Currahee and Lazy Hiker Brewing Companies, including bands and other music. The annual event benefits Greenville Shriner’s Hospital for Children, and 62 Macon County families currently receive free or low-cost services from the hospital. The $5,000 requested will be used to purchase banners and advertise, with the goal of raising $35,000 for the hospital. It has been several years since a request has been submitted to the TDA for support of this event.
An application for support of the 17th Annual Franklin Area Folk Heritage Festival was submitted to the TDA on April 30 and follows a contribution of $2,000 that was provided in 2022. Theresa Ramsey presented the theme for this year’s event as “A Celebration of Appalachian Heritage” and it will be held Aug. 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center. The event is offered free of charge to the public and will include for the first time a campsite where historians will share stories and skills. This year’s request is again for $2,000 and event promoters expect attendees to remain in the area for the weekend and frequent downtown Franklin while visiting.
Both requests will be voted on by the TDA at its June 12 meeting.
Carly Moser, from Drake Enterprises, gave an update on the TDA media budget for 2023-2024. She reiterated the proposed window of $215-220,000 and came to the meeting with only one option proposal. The best approach, with LocaliQ input, totaled out at $217,962 and still contained cross-market optimization that is hitting Atlanta, Asheville, Greenville, Charlotte, and some of Knoxville; however, it is not impacting Raleigh. She emphasized a desire to aim a “handful” of emails toward the Raleigh area to try and increase attention in that arena.
Household targeting will be occurring to drive “geo-fencing,” i.e., if someone searches on “Franklin” they will be targeted with more ads for the area. This applies to Snapchat and includes a 50% discount from LocaliQ on behalf of Franklin for the first three months, although it does have to run six months consecutively.
This budget keeps the YouTube 15 to 30-second ads and Eric Haggart’s photographical and videography contributions, which is budgeted at $4,000 – the same as 2022. Lastly, some renewed emphasis and attention toward Pinterest is anticipated, but with money saved elsewhere the financial burden in that area is not perceived to be very much either.
Budget discussion was also tabled with a financial report presentation by TDA member and Franklin Town Manager Amie Owens. To date, the TDA has expended $169,531.22 of the original $265,000 budget, leaving $95,468.78. Expenditures are covered, taking into consideration the fund balance appropriation approved earlier in the year. Further discussion on the TDA budget worksheet included how to best expend the agreed upon $265,000 allocated for the 2023-2024 budget. After some review by the group, it was agreed that for marketing, the budget would be capped at $220,000, leaving $45,000, minus $3,200 for audit and bond. With $41,800 remaining, it was agreed that festivals and events could be budgeted at $36,000 and the remainder of $5,800 being placed in undesignated leaving expenditure as needed. A motion was made for the allocation of funds followed by the TDA voting on and approving the motion.
The next TDA meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 12, in the Town of Franklin Board Room.