ARC-Supported Heartwood Artisan Gateway Officially Opens in Southwest Virginia
ABINGDON,VIRGINIA, July 28, 2011—Heartwood, southwest Virginia's artisan gateway, officially opened on July 23 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl. Several hundred people, including a number of local and regional officials, were in attendance.
Developed by the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission to attract tourists to the unique natural and heritage assets of the region, Heartwood received funding from partners including ARC and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. The center showcases crafts and demonstrations by local artisans while serving as a major venue for the Crooked Road heritage music trail and staging professionally produced musical performances.
Heartwood is expected to attract over 250,000 visitors annually in the next several years and create a $28 million regional economic impact.
In his remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, McDonnell said Heartwood showed "the greatness of this region," while Gohl praised the local partnerships turning "a nugget of an idea" into the economic asset Heartwood has become.
According to Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission executive director Todd Christensen, the $17 million project will benefit 19 counties and four independent cities in southwestern Virginia, from Franklin County in the east to the coalfields in the west. "This is an important economic development initiative for all of southwest Virginia," he noted.