Archived Outdoors

Grant project aims to boost Parkway’s economic impact

Grant project aims to boost Parkway’s economic impact

A pair of grants totaling $911,000 aim to support economic development planning in the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor, including both Virginia and North Carolina. 

Awarded to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation from the U.S. Economic Development Administration through the American Rescue Plan Act and EDA programs, the complementary grants include $518,000 for work in 17 North Carolina counties and $393,000 for work in 12 Virginia counties. The Foundation will work alongside local leaders in a collaborative process 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, the Foundation’s CEO. “We want to foster new ideas to enhance these long-term relationships and mutual benefits between the Parkway and gateway communities.”

According to a 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 increase that figure. 

“Our initial discussions with leaders in each Parkway community have confirmed widespread interest in working across boundaries to benefit everyone involved,” she said. “These grants will ensure a thorough, inclusive and effective process.”

With offices in Asheville and Winston-Salem as well as Roanoke and Galax in Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is the Parkway’s nonprofit fundraising partner, supporting initiatives along the 469-mile route. 

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