By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Consultants on Tuesday recommended seven to eight visitors centers be used to interpret the region’s heritage for tourists.
Phil Walker, of Nashville-based Walker Collaborative, and his team presented findings to the board of the Mississippi Hills Area Alliance, as the members continue to research the best way to interpret and monetarily capitalize on the cultural and tourism heritage in the region.
The Alliance board is in charge of the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, a federally recognized region bordered by Highway 55 on the west, Highway 14 on the south, the Tennessee state line on the north and the Alabama state line on the east. The group is funded with local, state and federal money.
The board has been working with the consultants for several months to put together a management plan for the heritage area.
The preferred plan Walker presented Tuesday called for interpretive centers to be in Tupelo, Hernando, Oxford, Holly Springs, Corinth, Pontotoc and Columbus.
The centers in Tupelo and Hernando would have interpretive information for all of the themes – African-American, Civil War, music and literature, Native American and architecture – while the other centers would focus on a specific theme.
Participants at Tuesday’s meeting suggested looking at partnering with an existing visitors center in Kosciusko. They also suggested that the plan be open to other towns that could house the centers.
Walker is having another meeting today at 10 a.m. at the Oxford Convention Center to present his findings and gather input. Then, he and the consultants will tweak the plan and start putting together cost estimates and a proposed budget.