WNC’s already impressive outdoor economy just received a big boost — to the tune of about $3 million.
Last week, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced that it will provide $1.35 million to support outdoor-driven community + economic development in 25 WNC counties, as well as the Qualla Boundary. And a collection of regional partners — including Mountain BizWorks, the Dogwood Health Trust, and Western Carolina University — has committed to providing an additional $1.64 million.
The goal? To generate 325 new outdoor rec jobs and $18.1 million in new investments for the region’s outdoor economy over the next 3 years. According to ARC leadership, the org has increased its focus on Appalachia’s outdoor rec industry as a way to build the economy in areas that have been impacted by the downturn of the coal industry.
And according to a 2017 report, WNC already ropes in $4.84 billion in consumer spending on outdoor rec annually, so we’re excited to see how these new investments will help accelerate the state’s existing $28 billion outdoor economy.
The project will be organized via 3 sequential pillars. Let’s take a look at them:
- The creation of an outdoor economic development and investment approach for every county in WNC, as well as the Qualla Boundary.
- An outdoor industry expansion plan that helps these companies capitalize on new demand by providing increased access to capital, peer mentorship, training, workforce development services, and other support.
- A branding and marketing campaign that positions WNC as the Outdoor Industry Hub of the East, which will help drive the region’s market access.
Cool, right? And you don’t just have to marvel from the sidelines. Get involved with these new efforts via the regional partnership Made by Mountains.