Home » MBJ FEATURE » And the Grammy (Museum) goes to … Cleveland Mississippi

And the Grammy (Museum) goes to … Cleveland Mississippi

Tourism tax revenue has increased nearly 34 percent in Cleveland in the last five years
By NASH NUNNERY

The announcement stunned the entertainment world nine years ago.

“And the Grammy (Museum) goes to…Cleveland… Mississippi.”

The second and only official Grammy Museum outside of Los Angeles, Grammy Museum Mississippi opened but a stone’s throw from the Delta State University campus in 2016. Organizers said they chose Cleveland because the Mississippi Delta is considered the bedrock of American music. It also didn’t hurt that Mississippi claims the most Grammy winners per capita in the world.

The $20 million, 28,000-square-foot museum is a smaller but updated version of the California museum and features high definition touchscreens and interactive technology that chronicle American music history.

Not unlike Mississippi Delta native and blues legend John Lee Hooker’s lyrics for one of his signature songs, the economic impact of Grammy Museum Mississippi for Cleveland and the region has been boom, boom, boom, boom…

Consider:

  • Sales tax revenues in the city have increased steadily from 2014 to 2019, up from $3.36 million to $3.80 million
  • In June 2014, tourism tax revenue in Cleveland was $712,202. Five years later, tourism tax revenue increased nearly 34 percent to $952,557
  • Additionally, sales tax diversion to the city increased to $3,804,378 in 2019, up $434,389 from 2014’s figure of $3,369,989

Cleveland city alderman Gary Gainspoletti points directly towards Grammy Museum Mississippi as the impetus for the growth.

“When the Grammy Museum project started construction in 2014, that growth escalated,” said Gainspoletti, who also owns Gainspoletti Financial Services near downtown. “In spite of the decline of the economy in the Delta, Cleveland’s has experienced steady growth.

“I don’t think that’s an accident. Though people are leaving the Delta, we’re blessed in Cleveland.”

A native Clevelander, Judson Thigpen serves as executive director for the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce. He believes the Grammy Museum has had a profound effect on jump-starting the local economy.

But Thigpen attributes other factors, as well.

“When we were discussing the Museum coming here, we knew we needed more hotel rooms with the projected increase in tourism,” he said. “The Cotton House (boutique hotel) opened last year and we’re expecting the new West Side development to open this spring. Plus, our downtown shopping (Cotton Row) is a huge draw.”

Cotton Row in downtown overflows with small boutiques and diverse dining opportunities. Businesses with names like H-squared, Delta Meat Market, Heidi’s, Punkin’ Patch, Hey Joes and Mosquito Burrito flourish. The Cotton House hotel, located in the heart of Cotton Row, has earned rave reviews

“The base that we have, however, is Delta State University. It continues to be the anchor for Cleveland and the Delta, in general,” Thigpen said.

Gainspoletti agrees.

“We are fortunate to have Delta State and the university itself creates activities that draw people to Cleveland and contributes to the influx of people,” he said.

Gainspoletti said the city is considering other future projects in the coming months to take advantage of the museum’s presence.

“These projects will focus on our connection with the music industry and how they might further expand our music outreach.”, he added.

Richard Tremmel, interim director for the Delta Music Institute at Delta State, said Grammy Museum Mississippi is a huge draw and might pay dividends for the program down the road.

“We get individuals and groups who are directed over to our facility from the (museum). Members of the DMI faculty have conducted seminars/lessons for middle school and high school students as part of Grammy Museum programming,” Tremmel said. “It’s too early for us to tell if we have gotten anyone enrolled in our degree program as a result, but it helps with drawing attention to and creating awareness of our program.”

According to Thigpen, capitalizing on the momentum created by the Grammy Museum is paramount.

“We are working to come up with a long-time strategy to keep the ball rolling,” he said. “I think the last thing to do is wallow in success.

“Cleveland can be a destination city – we’re real close.”

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