Lodging tax funds used for visitors center

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 10:50 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

A city lodging tax is being tapped to help finance a visitors center at the Jefferson Farm and Gardens.

The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau is giving $80,000 from its Attraction Development Fund to the Jefferson Farm and Gardens, an educational farm that is expected to be open to the public in 2008. The farm on New Haven Road will be used to educate the public on different methods of agriculture and gardening.

“We are very appreciative of the City Council and the Convention and Visitors Bureau for supporting the project,” said Rob Myers, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, which operates the model farm. “It will be a big help in meeting our capital goal in building the visitors center.”

Myers said the expected cost for the farm is $3.4 million, half of which will be used for the visitors center.

“Both the board and the Convention and Visitors Bureau believe that this will be a good addition to the community and positive for tourism in Columbia,” said Lorah Steiner, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The money for the Attraction Development Fund comes from a voter-approved increase in the lodging tax that is acquired from hotels and motels. The fund is used to increase tourism by creating attractions such as the Jefferson Farm and Gardens. Other uses for the fund have included the YouZeum and The Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts.

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