DAYTON, Tenn. - Visitors can now take a virtual tour of local businesses in Dayton.
At a meeting Monday of MainStreet Dayton, the downtown development group, Executive Director Anna Tromanhauser said a new website would allow people to see what Dayton has to offer.
The site, hosted by www.shopmainstreets.com, is a "great tool," she said, with the tour beginning earlier this month and continuing throughout the week.
Participants paid a "reasonable, additional fee" under $300, a fraction of MainStreet Dayton's initial fee of $2,000, to join the promotional website, said Tromanhauser.
Bob Hilburn, a partner with the Franklin, Tenn.-based Shopmainstreets.com, said the virtual tours were test-marketed with the cities of Franklin and Gallatin in May 2010 and had proven successful.
In another effort to pump up the city, MainStreet Dayton recently received a $100,000 Private Realm Improvement Grant toward the revitalization of exterior facades for nine selected downtown businesses.
"We really appreciate the grant money," said Clyde Caldwell, a member of the Dayton Masonic Lodge, which rents out its building's lower level to businesses.
Caldwell said lodge members had made major renovations on their own since 2004 and had "invested a lot of money" in the building.
Kerry Nabors, chairman of the MainStreet Design Committee, said the group will pave additional lots after city and county officials had approved the locations.
Later this year, the committee plans to install black, fluted poles throughout downtown to display street signs. That will provide a uniform appearance, as opposed to the variety of heights and sizes currently in place, Nabors said.
Tromanhauser said the Rhea County Economic and Tourism Council and Bryan College will partner with MainStreet Dayton to host a Scopes Festival weekend on Friday-Saturday, July 15-16.
Becky Tucker, with the Scopes Festival Committee, said the group wants to encourage more youth participation this year.
The festival's "History Within Us" activity would task students with collecting information and history about Dayton in the 1920s. The project will help students learn "how to collect oral history and have pride in their community," Tucker said.
Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org