TAMWORTH Regional Council will send its business director on a $17,000 fact-finding mission to the United States for three weeks in October.
John Sommerlad has been invited to speak to an international audience at the Music Cities Convention in Lafayette, Louisiana, about the success of the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
From there, he’ll hit four other cities to “continue researching economic development opportunities”.
The convention, which will pay for Mr Sommerlad’s stay in Lafayette, showcases the way music can grow a city’s economy.
From there, he’ll travel to Tamworth’s sister city Nashville, to talk about more than just country music – the city has the fourth strongest metropolitan economy in the country, along with one of the fastest job growth rates.
Cr Phill Betts said the benefits Tamworth could gain from the trip were “mind-boggling”.
“Nashville’s main economy generator is not country music – education and health far out weighs country music, but they got it that way because of the country music branding and marketing,” Cr Betts said.
“The way they’ve created that economic base from that marketing, there are valuable lessons we can learn from that.”
Mr Sommerlad will head to the small town of Sturgis in South Dakota, to find out about the city’s famous motorcycle rally.
Every year the town of 6800 attracts 500,000 visitors to its 10-day event, which contributes $800 million to the local economy.
Councillor Charles Impey said he was looking forward to Mr Sommerlad’s report on Sturgis.
“I’d love to know the secret to their success,” Cr Impey said.
Mr Sommerlad will also visit Fort Collins in Denver. The city of 164,000 punches above its weight and it is consistently among the country’s best for growth in jobs, wages and salaries, and technology output.
He’ll meet with city officials, the chamber of commerce and the Colorado State University to learn about the city’s “impressive record of growth”.
In Knoxville, Tennessee, Mr Sommerlad will meet with the CEO of the Dollywood Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation founded by country music legend Dolly Parton.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, council voted to sign up to the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program the charity runs to improve literally skills in children.
Each month, the charity mails a high-quality, age-appropriate book to all registered children, addressed specifically to them, at no cost to the child’s family.
The project comes with a $19,000 price tag for the first six months, and will kick off in January 2019.
Councillor Juanita Wilson applaud council’s “innovative decision” to support the program.
“I like that we think of ourselves as a community, not as an economy,” Cr Wilson said.
“This absolutely endorses that. It’s an exciting program and one we should be proud of.”