Manchin Panel to Address Cross-State Collaboration to Promote the Outdoor Economy | States and Territories

Multistate cooperation in Appalachia’s outdoor economy will be the focus of a panel discussion at Wednesday’s 86th Annual Meeting and Business Summit hosted by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce at The Greenbrier.

Gail Manchin, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Area Commission (ARC), moderated the panel, which included experts from the region’s outdoor industry, including New River Gorge Executive Director Gina Belcher, as well as national and local experts. leaders will also meet together. Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA).

Appalachia’s travel and tourism industry is one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the region, generating over $4.5 billion in local tax revenue and employing over 570,000 Appalachians.

“More than ever, it’s time to unite Appalachia and capitalize on the region’s rich culture, beautiful landscapes, and growing interest in outdoor recreation opportunities,” Manchin said in a press release. We believe that by working together towards a common goal, we can make a big difference in our communities, and we look forward to working together across states to exchange ideas on how to create a more robust and sustainable outdoors. I look forward to the economy of Appalachia.”

Manchin also provides insight into funding opportunities for the ARC’s new Appalachian Regional Initiative for Economic Strengthening (ARISE). This will make $73.5 million available to drive large-scale regional economic transformation through multistate collaborative projects across Appalachia.

The discussion will begin at 3:00 pm on Wednesday at The Greenbrier Resort, where the Business Summit will be held from August 31st to September 2nd.

Belcher, one of the key panelists at the event, will showcase West Virginia’s efforts to lead the outdoor recreation industry and a vibrant economy strategy (Outdoor RIVERS). .

The Outdoor RIVERS project recently received a $250,000 planning grant from the ARC to serve as a model for ARISE. NRGRDA is leading the project in partnership with the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative at West Virginia University.

Belcher said in a press release that the eight-state Outdoor RIVERS project includes organizations in West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland and Pennsylvania in Central Appalachia. said that

Belcher said in a release that over the next few years, the project will focus on developing a prepared workforce, investing in critical infrastructure, maximizing the cultural and natural assets of the region, and increasing the capacity of the region. Through this, it will result in advancing the joint industrial cluster. local community.

“The success of this project will be measured by quantifying new jobs created, new capital investments, new businesses created, technical assistance deployed, and a database of existing and new shovel-enabled projects impacting the outdoor economy. will be

Belcher said the project recently redesignated the New River Gorge National River as a national park, protecting it as the country’s newest outdoor asset located in the heart of Central Appalachia.

“Together, members of the Coalition are working to create an outdoor economy that will amplify Appalachia’s assets and create an outdoor capital of the East Coast,” Belcher said.

Other panelists are:

• Courtney Haynes, Coal Community Coordinator, Office of Economic Development, US Department of Commerce

• Dr. Danny Twilley, Assistant Vice President of Economics, Community and Property Development for the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collabative at West Virginia University

• Sara Chester, Co-Executive Director, Industrial Commons

• Molly Hemstree, Co-Executive Director

• Brad Collett, Director, Tennessee RiverLine

• Hannah Kirby, Tennessee RiverLine, fundraising strategist and grant manager.

In another session, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will speak at the summit.

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