Salem creates four tourism zones to attract new businesses

By Rachel Lucas - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

SALEM (WSLS 10) - Salem is the 20th municipality in Virginia to take part in a state incentive program to increase tourism and new business.

The Salem City Council voted this week to create four tourism zones.

Eligible projects in those areas can now qualify for state and local incentives, including shaving off start up costs.

Salem City Planner Benjamin Tripp said financial help will be available for those looking to open shop in the right location.

"This is really another tool in the tool box for us as a community to help make Salem a better place," explained Tripp.

He said the city and local businesses can take advantage of the opportunity provided through the Virginia Tourism Development Financing program.

"Tourism zones are enabled by the state through their legislation through the Virginia Tourism Development Financing program. They are really a policy-driven economic development effort in very targeted parts of the city," continued Tripp.

Salem has mapped out four zones, which include the downtown area, which includes the former Valleydale plant that's long been vacant, East Main Street, Kessler Mill Road and the area around the Salem Civic Center.

Tourism director Carey Harveycutter said this will create added amenities for tourists, while boosting the local economy.

"Anytime you can add new product, be it a restaurant, a distillery or a hotel or some kind of lodging, it raises your tax revenue and helps the community," Harveycutter said.

Businesses who are already established in these tourism zones can benefit from the program as well. Parkway Brewing said in the future, it may expand and because they are in the zone, they will be able to take advantage of those incentives.

Mike Pensinger, General Manager and master brewer at Parkway Brewing, said it's a big benefit to the company.

"We want to expand anyway, but this just makes it so that there is a different funding pool that can come and help us do it," Pensinger said.

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