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Gatlinburg Pinball Museum opens, illustrates city economic growth since wildfires

The City of Gatlinburg says Gross Tax Receipts and business licenses are up since last year.

New businesses are steadily coming back to Gatlinburg after the 2016 wildfire disaster.

"We want people to experience this," said Gatlinburg Pinball Museum Marketing Director Derek Shropshire. "Because pinballs, they're unique in that they're not just a game," Shropshire said.

The museum doesn't have a sign up outside just yet, but the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum is open for business in downtown Gatlinburg at 205 Historic Nature Trail where Headcase Escape Adventures is located.

You get to run up your score, and learn how it all happens.

"They're geometry, they're electronics, they're engineering, and there's also a lot of artistic design there," Shropshire said. "It's a different kind of museum. Because yeah, it's informational...but you also get to play with the exhibits."

Shropshire says the museum offers something the city hasn't seen before.

It will use signs above the machines to give people an opportunity to learn about the game they're playing.

It's part of how the city continues to grow since the wildfires.

"We've no issues with business here," Shropshire said. "Everyone's open for business. And the fact that we're able to open up something new and cool like this, really just stands to show Gatlinburg's fine, and Gatlinburg's going to be fine."

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Adams says business is growing strong.

"The last couple of years have been really good to Gatlinburg," Adams said.

The city says its gross tax receipts have gone up--that indicates businesses are making more money.

Year to date, the tax receipts are up 9.8 percent from last year.

From October of 2017 to September of 2018, the city issued 135 new business licenses.

Adams says about 50 of those were overnight cabin rentals.

He says growth has happened in downtown, around Glades Road, and in the Chalet Village area.

"The future's bright for Gatlinburg," Adams said. "But not only Gatlinburg--but Sevier County, and tourism. So Sevier County is the number three county in the state of Tennessee for providing tax dollars back to the capitol. So we're excited about that." 

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