Using $237k ‘reimbursement grant,’ Town to train ambassadors for tourism

Thanks to the Town of Farragut’s American Rescue Plan funding, a new ambassador program is being launched by the Town’s Tourism division, which kicked off with the first “FAM” (familiarization) Tour Wednesday, March 15.

Town Tourism manager Karen Tindal said, “All 95 counties in Tennessee received tourism ARPS funds. Our funding is $237,500 in a reimbursable grant and is funded through November 30, 2026.”

Tindal explained further the tour and the planned program during the regular bi-monthly Tourism/Visitor Advisory Committee meeting Tuesday, March 21.

“The funds are helping launch our ambassador program, which is two fold,” Tindal explained during the meeting. “One area of focus is making hotel, restaurant and attractions in Farragut knowledgeable to staff. The goal here is to make sure that our front line hospitality staff makes Farragut-centric recommendations to guests visiting the area.

“The second will be creating an army of Farragut ambassadors,” she continued. “These volunteers will assist staff at area restaurants, hotels and attractions and accompany staff when our mobile visitor center is in use at regional events and tournaments.

“It’s really going to be a focus of the Tourism program.”

Tindal said the first FAM Tour included new Town staff — Parks and Rec director Ron Oestreich, Information director Travis Ramsey and Historic Resources coordinator Jesse Williams — along with representatives of Visit Knoxville and the new owner of 35 North, Vinit Sharma, and two others affiliated with the business: Brady White and Summer Morgan.

“We visited Topgolf, then had lunch and Ron told us about the great things happening in out parks,” Tindal said. “At McFee Park they are putting in a new mountain bike trail and eventually a dog park.

They also “went through our retail area; including Turkey Creek,” she added. “We talked about the huge retail partnership and ended up at Town Hall, where we talked about the history of the Town and toured the museum.

“ARPA funding will cover the tours over the next four years, which will include the bus and lunch — whatever it takes to get everybody on board, to become real ambassadors, real mouthpieces, to extend the reach of our brand.”

Tindal said the next FAM Tour will most likely happen in May. “The second focus (of the ARPA funding), will be way finding and place making,” she said. “When you arrive in an area, where do you go? Where are restaurants, and what does that signage look like?

“Place making – how welcoming are specific areas of Town? We will also be looking at areas we could make a little more welcoming,” Tindal added.

“The last piece, will be to implement signage to help our guests get around more easily.”

New vehicle

Tindal reported a Chevy Traverse, approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, was purchased earlier this year and arrived Feb. 15.

The vehicle will be “wrapped” in appropriate signage by Fast Signs.

“No Farragut-specific businesses could wrap the vehicle, but we did work through the Farragut West Knox Chamber to procure bids from three Chamber members,” Tindal said.

“Fast Signs came in with lowest bid (and) we are working on the design phase,” she added. “Once that is approved, they need a 30-window for completion. It won’t take 30 days, however.”

The next Tourism/Visitors Advisory Committee meeting will coincide with the second annual hospitality lunch beginning at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 23, in Farragut Community Center.

This year’s luncheon will focus on Farragut’s hotel partners, Tindal said.