*** This story was published Wed, July 7 in the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier. ***
BRISTOL, Va. – A tax credit program could fill much of the remaining void in the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance's bid to establish a cultural heritage center.
On Tuesday, BCMA officials discussed the status of their heritage center project during an announcement about the Aug. 15 Mountain Stage show taping. They also introduced new Development Director Pete Buhls, who is working as an unpaid volunteer.
"Right now, we're waiting to hear about a [government-overseen] grant program that – if it's approved – could put us within about $600,000 or $700,000 of reaching our target. If that comes through, we'll get it done," Buhls said.
To date, the nonprofit alliance has raised about $6.7 million of the $10.5 million needed to establish the center in a vacant Cumberland Street building.
"It's very reachable," Buhls said of the goal.
BCMA Board of Directors President Edd Hill said the grant program could add about $3 million to the building fund.
"We're gathering information and working to submit that application," Hill said. "We hope to hear something about that soon."
Buhls, who recently joined the board of directors, has more than 30 years of sales experience.
"He came forward, volunteered to do this and said he could give us a couple of years," Hill said. "He will head up development, focus on operations and also work on the capital campaign. He knows a lot of people and he won't take "no' for an answer."
Kevin Triplett, a BCMA board member and vice president of public affairs at Bristol Motor Speedway, continues to chair the capital campaign to raise money for the cultural heritage center.
Alliance officials continue to function without an executive director, after releasing former Director Bill Hartley in March because they couldn't afford to pay his salary.