ARC Federal Co-Chair Manchin, Governors, and Tourism Experts Highlight Value of Investments in Tourism & Culture in Appalachian North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia

June 22, 2022

Building on its $12.3 million investment in 23 tourism and culture projects in FY21, ARC awards additional funding for a high-impact, multi-state outdoor tourism planning project

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) recently held the second in a series of five virtual events (titled the Appalachia Envisioned Roadshow) to showcase how ARC’s strategic investment priorities are coming to life in all 13 Appalachian states. The event featured engaging discussions with Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee, Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia, and tourism professionals and community leaders from North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia about their successes in leveraging tourism and culture to fuel economic growth.

Immediately following the event, ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin also announced a new $250,000 grant to the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) for the Planning For Outdoor Recreation Industry, Vibrant Economies, & Regional Strategy (RIVERS) project, which will create a roadmap for bolstering the growing outdoor industry sector in Appalachian communities across Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The travel and tourism industry in Appalachia is among the region’s fastest-growing employment sectors, generating more than $4.5 billion in local tax revenue and employing more than 577,000 Appalachians.

“The RIVERS project will help our region make the most of the burgeoning outdoor tourism industry in Central Appalachia, and provide a model for multi-state collaborations that future ARC grantees can replicate and adapt for success,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “With the help of our federal, state, and local partners, ARC is committed to doing all we can to help our Appalachian communities maximize opportunities around regional tourism and culture to support quality-of-life for our people and fuel economic development.”

“New River Gorge Regional Development Authority is honored to serve as the coordinator for a new, regional partnership focusing on cultivation and acceleration of the outdoor recreation industry cluster across six Appalachian states. This planning award will allow us to develop a foundation to formalize our coalition and build on our commonalities to bolster outdoor manufacturing and recreational tourism in a collaborative way throughout Central Appalachia. We’re thrilled today’s culture and tourism event coincided with the announcement of our project and greatly appreciate Co-Chair Manchin’s commitment to the Outdoor RIVERS coalition’s vision,” said Jina Belcher, NRGRDA Executive Director.

Access the recordings of Stop 2 of the Appalachia Envisioned Roadshow: Building Culture and Tourism in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

**The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

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