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FRANKFORT – The plans for a Visitors Experience at Jim Beam Distillery got a shot in the arm Wednesday.
The Kentucky Tourism Development Authority approved tax incentives for the $15 million project at the Clermont plant.
When completed in 2012, the new visitors center could have 200,000 tourists annually visit the plant off Highway 245.
In September, Jim Beam officials announced plans to replace the American Outpost visitor center with a totally new type of interpretative center.
The project would include a new visitor center and gift shop. It would also include a new entrance road and parking, as well as making the distillery accessible to public tours.
Currently, the attraction draws around 80,000 tourists annually.
Marcheta Sparrow, secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Council, was present for the September announcement. She said at the time that the partnership between the state and Jim Beam was very important.
With Jim Beam being at the beginning of the Bourbon Trail of distilleries, Sparrow said it would lead to increased visitors at the other locations.
“This will help all of the other partners on the Bourbon Trail,” Sparrow said in a press release.
Under the tax incentives provided, Jim Beam would be eligible to receive up to $1.2 million in refunds over a 10-year period based on state revenues of $2.2 million over the same period.
Jim Beam Noe, great-grandson of Jim Beam and the engineer leading the project, said in September that the family wants to share the experience with the visitors.
“It is an experience we want to share,” he said.
The project is slated to be done in three phases. The start of the project was dependent upon the timing of the state funding.
The initial stage would include a lot of infrastructure work, according to Noe, with the second phase consisting of opening up the distillery for public tours. Some of the improvements will be completed by next year.
The state-of-the-art interactive visitor center would be the final part of the project.
The displays will include stories and artifacts from the Beam family, whose company dates back to 1795.
Jeff Conder, vice president of North American operations for Beam Global Spirits and Wine, said the bourbon industry accounts for more than 3,000 jobs and nearly $115 million in local and state taxes in Kentucky.
“The Visitors’ Experience project will further economic growth with the creation of more jobs and increased tourism revenue, helping the Commonwealth continue to flourish,” Conder said during the groundbreaking ceremonies.