TDA increases funding for 'A Chef's Life' from $18K to $50K

TDA increases funding for 'A Chef's Life' from $18K to $50K

The Kinston-Lenoir County Tourism Development Authority had its first meeting of the 2018-19 fiscal year this week at the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News

The Kinston-Lenoir County Tourism Development Authority had its first meeting of the 2018-19 fiscal year Tuesday. The board made several key decisions during the meeting.

One of the largest ones occurred with distributing additional money to "A Chef's Life," going from $18,000 in the budget to $50,000. The motion passed by a majority, with board member Joe Tyson the lone dissenter. 

Tyson said he supports the show and was fine with an increase in money, but wanted to ensure other entities wouldn't be shafted moving forward.

"I think 'A Chef's Life' is good for Lenoir County and the city of Kinston," Tyson said. "We had given $18,000 last year and we were presented with two options this year for $25,000 and $50,000. I would've gone with $25,000, but my concern going from $18,000 to $50,000 in one big swoop was making sure we didn't deny other organizations funds."

Another board member, Linda Rouse Sutton, said she agreed with the increase in funding because of the benefits "A Chef's Life" has done for the community.

"Our definitive goal as the tourism committee is to invest in entities providing heads in beds," Sutton said. "I think this program has done as much, if not more, as anything else and we're definitely proud of Vivian Howard for everything she's accomplished."

Chairman Gram Spear said it can be tough making hard decisions, but believes it will be for the greater good of the area.

"It's a struggle sometimes because just about every request we get is a good one," Spear said. "If we had an unlimited budget, we'd distribute to everyone but unfortunately, we don't. We're trying to set priorities and see where the money will go the furthest. There will be different opinions, but it always works out in the end.

"We're advertisers in essence; we're not giving money to anyone, we're advertising on a program that brings the community in an amazing light. We want Vivian to know we support her as she's supported us and we're trying to facilitate needs."

The TDA also approved $83,000 worth of Special Events and Tourism Related Activities Committee (SETRAC) grants for the first half of the fiscal year, leaving the organization with $27,500 for the next six months. Among the organizations receiving grants are the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce for the BBQ Festival on the Neuse and the ENC Food, Brew 'n' Que; the Lenoir County Cooperative Extension for the Commercial Kitchen; and smART Kinston for the Kinston Arts Marketing Project.

"It comes down to the availability of funds," board member Matthew Young said. "We don't want to sell anyone short while making sure we have enough funds for the January cycle."

The board also unanimously elected Spear to continue serving as the TDA chair. Spear said he's thankful for the board having faith in him and glad to work with the group.

"This is a very active group, which makes being chairman an easy proposition," Spear said. "They get along very well and their hearts are into Kinston and Lenoir County, trying to share our story with the rest of the world."

The next meeting will be held Aug. 21 at 3 p.m. at the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce.

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