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Grammy Museum is expected to bring an economic boom to the Mississippi Delta
Mississippi Business Journal

The first Grammy Museum outside Los Angeles is coming to Cleveland, and with it comes an economic boom for Cleveland, Bolivar County and the Delta. With a goal of raising $15 million and getting the project completed in the next 24 months, hopes are high.

“The fund raising is going quite well,” said Allan Hammons, project consultant of Hammons and Associates in Greenwood. “It’s an ambitious project but we’re well on our way.”

Hammons, who was involved in the development and building of the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, has been involved in economic development for decades and doesn’t view the Grammy Museum any differently from chasing smoke stacks.

“The B.B. King Museum is the best barometer of how the Grammy Museum will help the area,” he said. “Since the museum opened in Indianola, tourism is up 20 points there and six new restaurants have opened.”

He says there’s no doubt the Grammy Museum will have the same kind of impact on Cleveland. The two music museums along with the Blues Trail and Country Music Trail — along with Graceland in Memphis — will create a synergistic destination for music lovers.

“All the Delta mayors are excited about this because we have so many attractions that can work together,” says Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell. “We want to get traveling people to stop and see what we have here.”

Nowell, in his fourth year as mayor, predicts sales tax growth will be tremendous for the city. The city has committed $3 million to the project, the county and state have each committed $1 million, and to date $2 million has been raised locally from other sources.

“We’re elated and there’s a ground swell of support for this project,” he said.

The Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce has begun discussing committees that will be needed when the museum opens. “We’re excited and we’re all in,” said executive director Judson Thigpen. “We’ve seen ourselves losing some of the traffic driving down from Memphis, but we’ll be able to capture some of it with the museum. New people will be coming and we’ll be a destination.”

Thigpen sees the museum as a tremendous opportunity to get traffic off U.S. Highway 61 to downtown Cleveland.

Organizers involved with fund raising are making calls on private investors and corporations. Lucy Janoush, president of the Cleveland Music Foundation, said, “So far no one has told us no. This museum will be a part of culture and heritage tourism and will add an international piece to our pie, giving people a reason to spend the night here.”

The Foundation was set up to build the museum and will serve as its governing board. Janoush also points out the educational opportunities the museum will afford. “There will be opportunities for students at all levels; the possibilities are unlimited,” she said.

The Delta Music Institute at Delta State University has the state’s only accredited program in recording technology and is under the direction of Tricia Walker, a Grammy-winning song writer. Hammons says the Institute and its program struck a chord with the Grammy Foundation in Los Angeles. Music interns from Los Angeles will visit Cleveland and vice versa.

“Mississippi’s level of creativity has had a profound effect on American music,” he said. “There’s really something going on here. Our rich history in blues, rock-n-roll and country music has been a major influence on recording artists past and present.”

Gallagher and Associates of Silver Spring, Md., was selected to do the museum’s exhibit design. This firm designed the B.B. King Museum, the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and recently did work at the World War II Museum in New Orleans.

The architectural firms of Dale & Associates of Jackson and Elay + Barkley of Cleveland will handle design for the site and building. The museum site is on the front green of the DSU golf course where there’s direct highway access. This part of the golf course will be relocated to mitigated acres on the back side of the course. Hammons said the Institutions of Higher Learning Board has signed the agreement.

Members of the museum group from Mississippi will have their first meeting with the Grammy Foundation in Los Angeles on Feb. 7 to review plans.

Photo: Mississippi’s new Grammy Museum along with the Blues Trail and Country Music Trail and Graceland in Memphis will create a synergistic destination for music lovers.

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