published Friday, January 31st, 2014

Rhea Economic and Tourism Council names economic, tourism director

Rhea Economic & Tourism Council's new Executive Director Dennis Tumlin
Rhea Economic & Tourism Council's new Executive Director Dennis Tumlin
Photo: Kimberly McMillian

DAYTON, Tenn. — The Rhea Economic and Tourism Council board has hired county native Dennis Tumlin as its new executive director and announced goals for 2014.

Tumlin, who said he brings "a network in tourism" to the job from his work interactions with Dollywood and Ripley's, announced his "Vision 2020" plan for the county's growth after he was introduced to area leaders. He officially began the job Jan. 21.

Former Chairman Gary Louallen had said the board interviewed nine candidates for the post, which was vacated by John Payne in July 2013. Computer literacy and sales savvy ranked high when narrowing the list, he said.

Tumlin announced his plan "Vision 2020" for the county's growth in tourism and industry after Louallen introduced him recently to more than 20 community leaders.

The first priority, Tumlin said, is the board's need to implement a plan leading up to the year 2020.

Under former Executive Director Raymond Walker, the board pushed for increased industrial growth, with a slower increase in area tourism. Payne's nearly two-year tenure had focused on increasing retiree livebility and Rhea's trails and local attractions, while researching potential industries to locate there.

Tumlin said that board had reviewed the natural resources in Rhea County, but that change toward growth required time.

"You can't turn this ship overnight," he said, adding the board will have a new or renewed vision within 90 days.

Tumlin said Monday that at least 20 fishing tournaments are scheduled in the county over an eight-month period in 2014, along with a bicycle race in September.

The tournament list includes the American Bass Anglers weekend series, Bassmasters Classic, Cabela's, Fishers of Men national championship and the Heartland Anglers Classic.

Louallen said that if anyone had misconceptions about the economic impact of the tournaments he had numbers to support their viability.

"A lot of dollars" are spent during the events, Tumlin said. He said many will be featured on television sports networks.

He said the board expected the publicity to lead to industrial growth in the county.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@bellsouth.net.

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