SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced $857,905 in funding will benefit tourism in Shelby County, including the new Kentucky Black History Trail, a collaborative project between six Kentucky counties.
“Today’s awards support our thriving tourism sector, an industry that fuels economic growth in both rural and urban communities in Kentucky. My administration recognizes how critically important it is to invest in tourism in every community, large or small,” said Gov. Beshear. “These kinds of investments move our communities forward. As Governor, and especially as a dad, nothing is more important to me than building a better Kentucky for all our people.”
“We in Shelby County are very appreciative of this funding to boost our tourism industry,” said Shelby County Judge/Executive Dan Ison. “From wineries, distilleries, local eateries, horseback riding or fishing on Guist Creek Lake, we have a lot to share with Kentucky and the world. These funds will help us show everything Shelby County has to offer.”
Tourism Marketing Funding
Beshear awarded $357,905 from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the Shelby County Tourist Commission to support travel marketing and promotion and attract meetings and conventions.
“With the additional ARPA funding, ShelbyKY Tourism is able to market our Shelby County destination, as well as the new Shelbyville Conference Center, like never before,” said Janette Marson, president of Shelby Tourism and Visitors Bureau. “Thanks to the legislators and Gov. Beshear, Shelby County is advertising nationally, which in turn, will bring additional economic impact to our county and the commonwealth.”
“These funds will help Shelbyville attract and welcome more guests to town,” said Mayor Troy Ethington of Shelbyville. “We will use this funding to showcase all that makes our city unique, such as our beautiful Saddlebred horse farms, local distilleries and winery tours, amazing community parks and our historic Main Street.”
Kentucky Black History Trail
The Governor also presented $500,000 to the Kentucky Black History Trail. This multijurisdictional project aims to build a trail that will highlight locations connected to Kentucky’s Black History. Rather than reading from a sign, visitors will have the opportunity to connect with these sites in unique ways, specifically, an augmented reality experience that will allow history to come to life using QR codes. The trail is a collaborative project between Shelby, Jefferson, Hardin, Bullitt, Oldham and Nelson counties.
“The development of this highly innovative Black History Trail is an incredible opportunity for us to tell more diverse stories about our destination and region,” said Cleo Battle, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism. “The project speaks directly to the work we are doing to help our destination increase awareness surrounding Black travel and visitation as we strive to host a higher percentage of Black visitors annually.”
“The Black History Trail is a very important addition to Bullitt County’s h
eritage and history. The technology that brings history alive right in front of you will spark future generations’ thirst for knowledge. It will hopefully comfort past generations who lived it,” said Troy Beam, executive director of Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourism. “Bullitt County’s history is not complete without our African American history, and this project will help us tell that history. The funding for this project is immeasurable for our counties; it gives an opportunity for us to tell stories that otherwise may not have been told and in a technology that will peak the interests of visitors of all ages.”
“We are very appreciative of Gov. Beshear and the Kentucky General Assembly for continuing to support the hospitality industry,” said Janna Clark, executive director of Elizabethtown Tourism and Conventions. “This project is innovative and will provide a unique experience for those traveling in our region of Kentucky.”
“Oldham County is honored to be included in such a groundbreaking history project that will highlight the importance of African Americans in Oldham County’s history,” said Kim Hydes, executive director of Oldham KY Tourism and Conventions. “We are grateful to be part of a multijurisdictional project that was funded with ARPA funds, as it has given our county a unique opportunity to educate visitors about Kentucky’s rich history in a creative way that our budget would not allow for otherwise.”
“The Kentucky Black History Trail: Where the Stories Come Alive, is a unique experience. Visitors will be able to use their mobile device at more than 15 sites across the Louisville region and experience holograms of Kentucky historical figures, which will then literally bring that portion of Kentucky Black history to life,” said Janette Marson. “Kentucky will have the only experience like this in the country. The idea is extremely timely and a unique way to reach African American travelers as well as all visitors interested in history. We are so very thankful to Governor Beshear for helping us get the funding for this very important project.”
The awards are part of the $75 million in ARPA funding announced by the Governor in July to boost the state’s tourism industry and economy following the decline in visitors brought on by the pandemic. The funds are distributed by the Kentucky Department of Tourism to eligible tourism organizations throughout the commonwealth.