Tuesday meeting in Massena will discuss a Tennessee city that used fishing to rebuild its economy
Monday, October 9, 2017 - 8:39 am

MASSENA — The public is invited to learn how a small city on a Tennessee lake used bass fishing tournaments to rebuild a local economy devastated by plant closure and the loss of 700 jobs.

Massena Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray contacted officials in Dayton, Tenn. after seeing a report on TV about the town’s decision to use sport fishing as an economic development tool.

“Don Meissner, hired by the Town to promote fishing in our three beautiful rivers, told me about a story he had seen on ‘CBS This Morning’ back in June focusing on Dayton’s efforts to promote fishing as an economic development tool,” Gray said in a news release. (https://www.cbsnews.com/videos/bass-fishing-in-tennessee-town-helps-turn...)

“I did some research and found my way to Dennis Tumlin, director of FishDayton. (www.fishdayton.com ) I was amazed by his story of how a community of 9,100 people reacted to the devastating loss of employment with bass fishing. After several phone calls with Dennis, we made arrangements for him to travel to Massena to tell us and our neighbors about Dayton’s journey,” he wrote.

The presentation and meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10, in Room 30 on the second floor of the Massena Town Hall.

Dayton is located on Lake Chickamauga in southeastern Tennessee. According to Gray's release, last year the city hosted 30 bass tournaments and those events brought $14 million in new money in the form of tourism dollars. "The attention garnered by the tournaments caught the eye of restaurants and hotel chains, and improved the job outlook and quality of life in Dayton," the release says.

Recently, a new tire factory opened in Dayton. Gray's release saysTumlin believes that development is a direct result of the fishing tournaments, coupled with investments made by the city in fishing-related infrastructure and sponsorship fees spent on the tournaments.

“Dennis told me he thinks amateur tournaments actually return more dollars to the local economy than large-scale professional tournaments like the BASSMASTER Elite. I’m anxious for us all to learn more about what he and the folks of Dayton have done to rebuild their economy with fishing as a cornerstone,” Gray said.

Gray said "this type of economic development is exactly what he and Pat McKeown, former director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, had in mind when they formed the FISHCAP initiative seven years ago."

“When we approached the Massena Town Council with the idea at the time, the Council agreed it made sense and decided to spend $25,000 of casino gaming compact money to get FISHCAP off the ground. That effort led to an increased focus on fishing promotion and eventually brought the Elite series to St. Lawrence County,” Gray wrote.