Volunteers Bring Southern Hospitality To Main Street

Tourism Growing In Williamson County

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - A volunteer group is making tourists feel at home in Franklin one conversation at a time.

A 'Warm Welcome' has been taken to a new level on one of the 10 best Main Streets in the country.

"We have a new program that we just started this weekend, called 'Franklin Locals. 'We're basically concierges on the streets," Joni Cole said.

A couple visiting from Southern California loved Williamson County so much, they just bought a property in Leiper's Fork.

"It's about a relationship with our locals with the people that are coming downtown to visit," Cole said.

She said her volunteer group hit the streets on Thursday for the first time. She said tourism is growing.

"My restaurant Gray's on Main and our new whiskey bar O' Be Joyful, about 60 percent are tourists," Cole said.

In 2016, the overall economic impact of tourism in Williamson County was over $427.25 million according to the Visitor's Bureau. New numbers have not yet been released for 2017. Franklin Local volunteers take to the streets in full force Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"I'm paid to love our visitors, but I love them anyway, but to have volunteers, people give up their personal time to stand on a street corner and welcome that visitor, tells you how this community as a whole views visitors," said Ellie Westman Chin.

Chin, the President and CEO of the Williamson County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said they're building a hotel downtown. It's just a small glimpse of the impact tourism has had in their community.

"In 2016 we had 1.43 million visitors come into Williamson County and Franklin to experience all of the great things that we have to offer," said Chin.

So as volunteers walk around, tourists are left with a taste of southern food, and of course southern hospitality. 

"Ya'll enjoy your day, thank you," Cole said.

It's believed that over 3,500 people are employed in the hospitality industry in Williamson County. If you would like to join the "Franklin Local" group as a volunteer, you can email Joni.

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