Mississippi filmmaker and investor Tate Taylor has received the 2021 Tourism Investment Award from the Mississippi Tourism Association (MTA). This award is presented to an entity or person who has made an enduring contribution to the economy. It celebrates those who have built or invested their time, talents and money into a hotel, restaurant, attraction or other tourism-related project that enhances Mississippi’s tourism product.
“I am extremely honored to be recognized by the Mississippi Tourism Association for this award,” Taylor said. “Our work in Natchez and Jefferson County is focused on investing in community and economic development, so to be recognized by our hard-working Mississippi tourism professionals is very humbling to me and our entire team.”
MTA recognized the impact and accomplishments of the state’s tourism industry at its tourism awards ceremony held during the Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Jackson Convention Complex in Jackson, Mississippi, October 20-22, 2021. This annual educational and professional development event brought together around 200 tourism industry professionals from across the state as well as tourism partners from the surrounding region.
“It is truly an honor to celebrate these members and partners who work tirelessly for their communities. The competition was strong and that is a testament to the caliber of work being produced by our industry partners and the strength and competitiveness of Mississippi tourism,” said MTA Executive Director Danielle Morgan.
Through the Crooked Letter Picture Company, Taylor has welcomed film and television projects to the state and developed Natchez into a premier film production destination in the region. As part of an ongoing movie project, Crooked Letter Picture Company built a carnival on The Natchez Bluff. In between filming days, the Natchez community and surrounding areas were invited to participate in a family-friendly and community-minded carnival.
Over the last five years, Taylor and company have developed Film Natchez into the premier job training program for the film industry in Mississippi, welcoming prospective film industry workers by offering real-life educational and career development opportunities.
Taylor and the Friends of the Forks of the Road Society in Natchez are working closely with the National Parks Service and community leaders in Natchez to develop the historic Forks of the Road slave market monument into a museum and fundamental location on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.
Taylor purchased the famed Smoot’s Grocery in Natchez and restored the 80-plus-year-old juke joint into a popular local bar and live music venue. His restaurant, The Little Easy, in Natchez has quickly become a local favorite and essential food stop for visitors.
Most recently, he broke ground on the historic train depot on Broadway Street, with plans to develop the property into a culinary and special events destination in downtown Natchez.
Looking to create a boutique lodging space, he is also working with the Historic Natchez Foundation and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to preserve and reinvent the historic Prentiss Club and the property at 409 Franklin in Natchez.
Taylor also partnered with Ardenland to produce the first annual Mudbug Music Festival and the Natchez 4th of July Celebration featuring country music icon, Hank Williams Jr. The Mudbug Music Festival was recognized with the award for Small Festival Event of the Year from the Mississippi Tourism Association.
Taylor is a man with vision, passion and great enthusiasm for his home state, and he has made a significant investment in Mississippi’s future.
“Mississippi’s tourism industry is filled with immensely talented professionals, and the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic have shed light on their resiliency and dedication to our communities and state. We honor their contributions to Mississippi’s fourth-largest industry, and we are grateful for their steadfast support of our association’s mission. We heartily congratulate all statewide award winners for their outstanding accomplishments,” said Marlo Dorsey, 2021-2022 president of MTA.