Renasant Center to house tourism destination

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A regional tourism group has leased the former P.B. Loco location in Fairpark, with the hopes of using it to better market the area’s cultural and heritage attractions.
The Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance, which currently has an office inside the Renasant Center for IDEAs, this month became the leaseholder for the former restaurant space inside the same building, which is at the corner of East Main and Elizabeth streets.
The board members hope to transform the space into a heritage center that will educate tourists about cultural and heritage attractions in the region that spans from the Tennessee and Alabama state lines to U.S. Highway 55 on the west to Highway 14 on the south.
“We still envision the central focus of this being our members and our story,” program manager Bobby King said at the group’s board meeting Tuesday.
He said the center will have permanent exhibits about the iconic attractions in the region, along with space for a temporary exhibit. For example, if Corinth wanted to publicize its slugburger festival, it could use the heritage center to cook burgers and set up educational materials and photos about the history of the slugburger and the festival.
He suggested similar projects for other members, including the University of Mississippi, the Mississippi Main Street Association, DeSoto County and the city of Columbus.
The group also hopes to sell Mississippi souvenirs at the center.
The alliance board has budgeted for interior renovations in this fiscal year. The money includes $150,000 of federal money allocated to national heritage areas, of which the hills region is designated.
Project coordinator Kent Bain said the exterior renovations hopefully will happen next year.
Both King and Bain said the timeline for the project is up to the board members.
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.