The Convention and Visitors Bureau will get help bringing in outdoor tourists
Published at 00:00 on Saturday August 20, 2022
Lawrence County will get help attracting recreational tourists to help improve the local economy.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the Lawrence County Convention and Visitors Bureau and its partners had been accepted into an assistance program.
Marty Conley, director of the Lawrence County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said they applied for it last fall and “we didn’t get it. But you don’t get everything.
This year was different.
“I received a phone call about a month ago from a representative of the Appalachian Regional Commission who had seen our application,” Conley said.
ARC is designed to help Appalachian counties and it has partnered with the US EPA and other agencies to help create economic opportunity in communities using the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities assistance program .
And Lawrence County was one of 25 small rural communities in the United States to be helped by the program.
“We’re very excited,” Conley said, adding that they’ve formed a steering committee to determine what recreational resources the county has, such as the Wayne National Forest and the Ohio River, and what can be done to improve. access to these resources. more attractive to outdoor tourists. With more tourists comes more economic opportunities for local businesses.
Conley said the steering committee is made up of six people who will kick off the process.
“It will increase as we do more things with people across the county,” he said. Next spring they will start having a series of meetings with a group of consultants called Revised Strategies.
A federal planning team will work with the steering committee for four to six months, with a facilitated two-day community workshop as the focal point.
Participants will work together to develop strategies and an action plan to grow their local outdoor recreation economies.
“We’re going to start with three Zoom meetings, talking about the region, talking about what we have here and what we need here. We’re going to summarize what our recreational assets are and do they impact the economy, and if not, how can they,” Conley explained. Then the consulting group will come to Lawrence County and check things like cities and WNF. “The goal is to be pointed in the right direction for funding, for the assets that we need for outdoor recreation. It’s all about outdoor recreation and the economic impact on the community.
Conley said now was a good time to hear about getting that help.
He had been working with the Voinovich Center on a recreation plan and they were about to go public for public comment.
“We never really had a recreation plan, so it really seems like things are lining up,” Conley said. “The recreation plan will be an added bonus as we move forward. We will take everything apart and rebuild everything. »
Recreational tourism has become a big business opportunity for Appalachia with CRA Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin citing statistics that the travel and tourism industry brings in $4.5 billion in local tax revenue to the region and employs more than half a million people.
The Recreational Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) program builds on our region’s economic development potential by investing in local heritage and natural assets in Appalachia, which will lead to more vibrant downtowns and increased growth of outdoor recreation industries,” Manchin said.