ASHEBORO — After more than two and a half years, the Randolph County Tourism Development Authority officially dedicated its building at 500 Albemarle Road.
With city, county and state government officials in attendance on Sept. 29, TDA chair David Caughron cut the ribbon in a ceremony highlighted by blustery winds from the approaching remains of Hurricane Ian. The occasion also marked the agency’s 25th anniversary.
“COVID put everything on hold,” Caughron said, referring to January 2020 when the TDA moved from its quarters in the Historic 1909 Courthouse). “But with 25 years, maybe this is more appropriate.”
Also on the program, Caughron said, was a “special honor,” the dedication of the Phillip Douglas Kemp Meeting Room, where the TDA Board of Directors will meet monthly.
Kemp had been the liaison between the county Board of Commissioners with the TDA, meeting regularly with the directors. He served in the role from 2008-2016.
“He was a man truly possessed with a heart for service,” Caughron said. “He listened to the issues and challenges serving as the liaison.”
Later, Kemp’s son, Doug Kemp, said of the meeting room dedication, “I think it’s great. He was proud of Randolph County.”
NC Sen. Dave Craven led a group of government officials to praise the work of the TDA. “It does a lot to attract tourism, now in a permanent setting.”
County Manager Hal Johnson noted that the TDA was established in 1997 through legislation from the state. “It’s a special economic development engine,” he said, driving tourism into Randolph County.
Asheboro Mayor David Smith told the attendees that when the TDA was formed, the city and county “had to transition to other industries,” with the loss of many of the textile and furniture manufacturers. “Tourism is unique in Randolph County with the state zoo. The TDA was created to support all aspects of tourism. Most people don’t know the magnitude of the tourism business in Randolph County.” The I-73/74 Visitor Centers near Seagrove are run by the TDA, Smith said. “They do a fantastic job. I love it when people come to Asheboro and Randolph County, then leave their money with us when they go home.”
Representing US Rep. Ted Budd was Sam Shumate. He said Budd wanted to “congratulate the entire team for 25 years of service. I can’t think of an organization doing a better job. It provides a tremendous benefit for small businesses.”
Stephanie Blair of the staff of US Sen. Thom Tillis said he wants to “celebrate the heart within the Heart of NC.” The TDA, she said, supports the NC Zoo, racing, potteries, agritourism and other businesses.
Amber Scarlett, TDA executive director, thanked those in attendance “for your presence here and for your support the past 25 years. Let’s come back in 50.”