Civil rights tourism in Birmingham received a boost of more than $2 million this week. Jefferson County Commission approved allocating $2.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to organizations in the Civil Rights District. Several institutions are slated to receive funding for specific projects that will improve physical facilities and the district’s ability to attract tourists in the future. They are:

  • 16th Street Baptist Church – $900,000 to fund work associated with the creation of a visitor and educational building. The church is expected to break ground at its 150th anniversary in April of 2023 with estimated completion by September 2024.
  • Urban Impact Inc. – $320,895.60 to aid in the creation of a culinary incubator within the National Civil Rights Monument and 4th Avenue Business District and to provide access to capacity building and business development for entrepreneurs.
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute – $900,000 to fund work associated with hiring a full-time curator to inventory exhibits, develop content and implement updates. BCR also plans to modernize existing exhibits and increase outreach by creating a traveling exhibit.
  • Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame – $407,506 to create original exhibit content and restore historic textiles to feature in existing and new museum exhibits. It will also aid the organization in being able to continue its regularly scheduled programming in the Carver Theatre for Performing Arts through its Jazz Greats educational and exposure program.
  • St. Paul’s United Methodist Church – $101,261 to help fund a museum-quality tourist center. The exhibit will feature pictures, letters, newspaper articles and videos from the past. The project is expected to be complete by February 2025.
  • Historic Bethel Baptist Church – $61,980 to aid in expanding its interpretative programs and tour experience by transforming the basement into an augmented virtual reality tour for guests.

Jefferson County received $127 million in ARPA funding. The funds must be obligated by the end of 2024 and expended by the end of 2026. The commission has also allocated $4 million to mental health and substance abuse programs, $13 million for household support programs and $45 million for clean water and storm water projects.

Read the full story in the Birmingham Business Journal
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