Editorial: Dollywood’s $300 million project is big for Sevier County

Aug. 22, 2013 @ 05:47 PM

For some time citizens of Sevier County have been seeing them: Signs, billboards and website teasers of Dolly Parton, slyly indicating a “secret” would be announced Aug. 21 at Dollywood.

People in the media were told the announcement would be the biggest in Dollywood’s history.

Thursday, after weeks of speculation, the public found out some details of the secret on the Today Show. Shortly after, Dolly dropped the big news in person from the park with Gov. Bill Haslam, Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster and Tennessee Tourism Director Susan Whitaker.

“My dreams are just about to come true,” Parton told a cheering audience in Dollywood’s Showstreet Palace theater. “We’re planning to invest over $300 million in the next 10 years to make this area, and Dollywood, one of the biggest and most popular destinations in the whole country.”

The biggest of the investments will be the DreamMore Resort, a 300-room resort hotel adjacent to the park, due to open in summer of 2015.

Additionally, it was announced, Dollywood will be adding a new “family” roller coaster called FireChaser Express, which will open next year. Other funds from the $300 million will go toward improvements in Splash Country and the main theme park.

Dollywood President Craig Ross said he expects the upgrades to create 2,500 new jobs, and that’s certainly a good thing.

Some may argue that most of the jobs will be entry-level or low-wage tourism jobs, but in reality 2,500 jobs is 2,500 jobs. The more that are available to help keep people in Sevier County employed, the better.

Some may also argue that that the county already has plenty of lodging, and Dollywood’s resort will take business from other establishment.

There may be a kernal of truth there, but, as always, the market will sort things out.

As Gov. Haslam said yesterday at the event, “When somebody announces a $300 million investment in your state, it’s a big deal,”

It certainly is.