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Resident pitches new tourism ship
What began as a big plan among a handful of residents is taking wind after a meeting gathered supporters Monday night.

Joe Lawson, head of the Historic Brunswick Seaport, an initiative to bring the nostalgia of Brunswick's historic port back to life, gathered key community leaders to hear about his plan to boost tourism.

Lawson wants to build a replica of a Colonial-era sailing ship to be used as an educational tourist attraction.

"George III wanted us to be an American Seaport, and George Washington designated us as such," Lawson told the supporters. "This isn't about building a boat. It's about something that will benefit the whole community."

Promoting the project, celebrating the rich history of the area, developing a plan for the future and encouraging visitors are paramount to the project, Lawson said.

"We'll use it for history, heritage, geography and ecology," Lawson said. "It's an educational tool."

The unnamed ship project is based on a similar project out of Chestertown, Md. The 4,000-member community threw support behind a ship called the Sultana, and within a few years, the ship was built and launched in 2001. It still remains successful today.

The ship attracted support, Lawson said, once people saw a small impassioned group was actually building a vessel.

If Brunswick could do the same, the project would generate money for the city through its programs.

"If 140,000 visitors come yearly to this, and pay $10 each, that's $1.4 million we have made," Lawson said.

A crowd in attendance Monday were quick to make comments on the project.

"Have you put on paper what we need - how much money it will cost?" said Julie Martin. "How do you start to wrap your head around this project?"

Lawson and others expressed the need to find donors for start-up costs, and then more will follow, he said.

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