W.Va. will share in ARC grant to help grow outdoor tourism

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Appalachian Regional Commission has recognized the potential lure of outdoors adventure tourism in the Appalachian Region and issued a grant to look at ways to maximize its growth.

ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin unveiled a $250,000 ARC grant Tuesday which will allow for the collaboration of West Virginia and five other states to come up with the best ways to grow the industry.

“The project will provide a model for multi-state collaborations that future ARC grantees can replicate and adapt for success. Now more than ever it is time for us to collaborate,” said Manchin in a Zoom press conference announcing the grant.

The grant is awarded to the New River Regional Development Authority in Beckley, but will include more than 350 partners in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. The project is entitled “Planning For Outdoor Recreation Industry, Vibrant Economies, & Regional Strategy.”

A press release announcing the grant described the project as an effort to put together a plan to leverage the assets in the Central Appalachian region’s most rural and coal-impacted communities including skilled workforce, industry heritage, natural/cultural resources, etc., to advance the growing outdoor industry.

“The outdoors tourism industry not only has the potential to cultivate vibrant outdoor communities, it also has the potential to accelerate tangible economic diversification opportunities,” Manchin said.

She said those opportunities include other critical needs in the Central Appalachian Region like downtown revitalization, broadband, manufacturing, site development, and agriculture.

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