In a significant boost to the economic revitalization, the Elk River Trails Foundation has been awarded a $1.3 million grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
This substantial funding is earmarked for the expansion of business and tourism infrastructure, promising to breathe new life into the coal-impacted communities along the Elk River in Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha counties.
The Elk River Trails Foundation, a beacon of community development and environmental stewardship, has been at the forefront of transforming the region’s natural landscapes into a hub for outdoor recreation and economic opportunity.
The ARC, a federal-state partnership committed to fostering economic growth in Appalachia, recognizes the potential of the Elk River Trails project to catalyze regional development.
The grant is poised to connect trail systems to the trail towns of Clendenin, Clay, Sutton, and Gassaway, enhancing accessibility and infrastructure.
This strategic development is not just about constructing trailheads and water access points; it’s about stitching together the fabric of these communities through shared economic and recreational goals.
Terrell Ellis, president and CEO of Advantage Valley, said the funding also allocates $300,000 to the FASTER WV program, which will provide crucial support to outdoor recreation and tourism businesses in the form of coaching, technical assistance, and financing. This initiative is a testament to the ARC’s and the Foundation’s commitment to nurturing local entrepreneurship and innovation.
“We’re spreading out our resources now across 10 counties. These funds will allow us to dedicate one business coach and a significant amount of technical assistance money just to those communities,” she said.
The anticipated creation of over 40 businesses and the leveraging of significant private investment are indicators of the project’s transformative potential.
The ARC’s recent allocation to advance economic diversification in Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities is a clear indication of its commitment to the region’s future. The Elk River Trails Foundation’s grant is a part of this broader effort, signifying a collective stride towards economic resilience and prosperity.