The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has secured two grants totaling $911,117 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to support economic development planning in the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor in Virginia and North Carolina. The grants are funded through the American Rescue Plan Act and U.S. EDA’s programs to advance economic recovery and resilience in travel, tourism, and other sectors.
The complementary grants, $393,193 for Virginia and $517,924 for North Carolina, will support the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s efforts to engage community leaders in the 12 Virginia and 17 North Carolina counties in the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor. Using a collaborative process, the nonprofit will work alongside the local leaders to develop targeted strategies to enhance tourism, outdoor recreation, and related economic activities.
“One of the key reasons to build the Parkway was to support economic recovery and prosperity in the rural communities along its route,” said Carolyn Ward, chief executive officer of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “We want to foster new ideas to enhance these long-term relationships and mutual benefits between the Parkway and gateway communities.”
According to a U.S. National Park Service study, the Blue Ridge Parkway had a $1.3 billion economic impact on local communities in 2020. Ward sees ample potential to improve that figure. “Our initial discussions with leaders in each Parkway community have confirmed widespread interest in working across boundaries to benefit everyone involved,” she added. “These grants will ensure a thorough, inclusive, and effective process.”