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James Meacham: Promoting tourism in Rowan

SALISBURY — In a county of shrinking budgets, James Meacham’s tourism marketing budget is expected to grow from $195,000 to $225,000 next year with the opening of the new Courtyard Marriott on East Innes Street.

Under Meacham’s leadership as executive director, the Tourism Development Authority continues to take on more responsibility, including the Rowan Arts Council, promotions and marketing for Downtown Salisbury Inc., leasing of the fairgrounds and the trolleys.

Tourism soon will launch the first marketing campaign for Gold Hill, a pilot program that Meacham plans to expand to other Rowan towns.

A 32-year-old graduate of Appalachian State University, Meacham also has partnered with RowanWorks Economic Development Commission to better market Rowan and Salisbury.

Meacham took over tourism for Rowan County in 2007 and also oversees the city’s tourism authority, created in 2009. The self-described “workout fanatic” grew up in Garner and is married with two daughters.

— Emily Ford

Dream date? A round of golf at Augusta National with Condoleeza Rice

If you won the lottery? Tithe 10 percent, give away 10 percent, pay off debt for family members, give 10 percent to education.

Favorite TV show? “Criminal Minds”

Who should play you in a movie? Keifer Sutherland

Last meal? A protein smoothie from Smoothie King

Who will you watch in 2013? Dr. Carol Spalding, the president of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, and N.C. Gov.-elect Pat McCrory

Your biggest challenge in 2013? “Continuing to distinguish Rowan County from competitors in an already challenging economy.”

Your biggest hope for 2013? Collaboration between all local governments. “The more we collaborate on a shared vision, the greater chance for economic growth and success.”

Reaction to being one to watch? “My career is complete now.” Seriously, tourism has a higher profile because it’s playing a bigger role in economic development.

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