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Rural Action Commission touts tourism of Butler, other counties

Planned focuses by the Alabama Department of Tourism on history and small towns may be right up central and east Alabama’s alley, Director Lee Sentell said recently.

Meeting with the South Central Action Commission’s Tourism Committee, Sentell said the 11-county region has a number of attractions, sites and events that fit perfectly with upcoming Tourism themes for promoting Alabama. The “Year of Alabama History” will be the department’s statewide theme in 2009 followed by “The Year of Small Towns” in 2010.

The regional commission is one of eight components of Gov. Bob Riley’s Alabama Rural Action Commission which was established in 2007 to improve the quality of life in Alabama, particularly the rural areas. Each commission acts independently to address the most critical issues facing each region.

Sentell said the recently opened Tuskegee Airman National Historic Site in Macon County is just one of attractions offered by the region. Other counties in the region are Autauga, Butler, Bullock, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lee, Lowndes, Montgomery, Pike and Russell.

Gerald Dial, executive director of the Rural Action Commission, said tourism is an industry that can be applied to every regional commission in the state.

“Tourism represents an important economic development opportunity for all areas of Alabama,” said Gerald Dial, ARAC Executive Director. “We are prepared to help communities and regions throughout the state to develop the tools to be successful at these initiatives.”

The group, which included state Rep. Pebblin Warren of Tuskegee, also agreed to urge the state Legislature to reinstate incentives needed to attract the motion picture industry to Alabama to shoot films. Warren’s daughter is an award winning actor who has stared in several Hollywood-based films. Another committee member, Jan Wood, is the executive director of the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce. Wetumpka along with several other areas in central Alabama has been the filming location for several motion pictures.

In addition to tourism and economic development, the Rural Action Commission was set up to improve education and health in rural Alabama. The commission is designed after Riley’s Black Belt Commission which was set up to enhance the quality of life in Alabama’s Black Belt region.

For additional information on ARAC, please contact Bessie Sharp at (334) 353-1618 or bessie.sharp@adeca.alabama.gov.