Norris says Great River Road Brings Economic Boost

On October 15, 2009, in News 2009, by Mark Norris

Contact: Chuck Grimes

October 15, 2009

Phone: (615) 741-1967


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) announced today that West Tennessee will officially become part of the National Scenic Byways Program ( at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. this week. Scenic Byway status is coveted by tourism, community and economic development officials alike.

With this designation, one of only 125 distinct and diverse roads designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as an American Byway (, West Tennessee officially joins the states of Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri and Wisconsin as part of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway. Tennessee’s portion extends the 2,069-mile stretch by 185 miles, from Kentucky to Mississippi.

Norris represents most of that expanse along the Mississippi River. Senate District 32, which he fondly refers to as “the West Coast of Tennessee,” includes Shelby, Tipton, Lauderdale and Dyer Counties. He serves on the Advisory Council of the Mississippi River Corridor – Tennessee (MRCT) ( which spearheaded the effort to obtain the state and federal recognition.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced that state routes along the Mississippi River were accepted into the Tennessee Byways network on October 5, 2009, and the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation will officially make its announcement Friday, October 16 in Washington, D.C. at a ceremony at which Senator Norris will proudly represent the Volunteer State.

“This puts us on the map in more ways than one,” says Norris who is focusing his efforts on economic development and environmental restoration of the Lower Mississippi River Basin. “It acknowledges the significance of the recreational, historic, educational, cultural and economic benefits of our region and enhances our ability to market the best of West Tennessee and all its communities have to offer.” A recent study indicated that over the next 20 years, the scenic byway could impact the West Tennessee economy by generating an influx of over $13 billion.

The Federal Highway Administration will also award an $80,000 grant which the MRCT will use in developing a unified branding campaign for the region. “Economic development is of primary importance right now. It has always been my goal is to capitalize on existing resources which make West Tennessee a world-class attraction generating new economic activity.”

Norris became Chairman-elect of the 16-state Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) in August and has announced he is bringing the Conference’s annual convention to Memphis in July 2011. “This Great River Road will be a major attraction as we begin marketing that event,” says Norris.

First elected to the General Assembly in 2000, Norris became Senate Majority Leader in 2007.

Comments are closed.