Appalachian communities of any size can find economic opportunity in the outdoors. To fully reap benefits, communities must plan holistically. Vibrant downtowns with food and lodging, infrastructure, and preservation are all key to a thriving tourism ecosystem. Learn more about outdoor recreation planning so your community can create jobs, attract new businesses, and increase quality of life for community members.
Giles County, Virginia
Chris McKlarney is the County Administrator in Giles County, Virginia. Located in the New River Valley, and known as Virginia’s Mountain Playground, the outdoor assets surrounding communities like Pearisburg are key to recruiting new businesses, attracting and retaining talent, and other economic development efforts.
Fred Ramey is the City Manager of Norton, Virginia, the smallest independent city in the U.S. Surrounding outdoor assets, like High Knob and Flag Rock, as well as local legends like the Woodbooger, are cornerstones of its economic growth strategy. Norton is not only embracing assets to attract tourists, but also to help community members develop a deeper connection to the mountains surrounding them.
St. Paul, Virginia
Kathy Stewart is the Main Street Manager at St. Paul Tomorrow, Inc. Her town is leading in the promotion and preservation of one of North America’s most biodiverse rivers, the Clinch River. St. Paul is also an incredible example of holistic tourism planning, with the historic Lyric Theatre and Western Front Hotel offering activities and lodging for outdoor tourists.
Molly Theobald serves as Director of Critical Infrastructure at ARC, which manages the Commission’s portfolio of projects that impact the built environment, including water, sewer, broadband, transportation and tourism projects. Molly has over 20 years of working in community and economic development, and previously worked in tourism development for the TVA, in housing development for private industry, and as a neighborhood planner for a CDFI in Philadelphia.
Tammie Nazario is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, Inc., the nonprofit organization that promotes environmental improvement and tourism development across 42 counties of southern and eastern Kentucky. She also is Director of The Kentucky Wildlands, which is PRIDE’s new tourism marketing initiative that promotes southern and eastern Kentucky as a regional tourism destination.
Debbie Phillips is the CEO of Rural Action, a non-profit organization working to develop the economy of Appalachian Ohio in environmentally, socially and economically sustainable ways. Phillips helped grow the organization as Development Director, and in 2018 was named as CEO. Prior to her work at Rural Action, she served in the Ohio House of Representative for 8 years. Debbie’s core purpose is to help connect people to a sense of agency and joy. She loves our region and its people.
Cassidy Rasnick serves as Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development. Prior to her appointment, Rasnick managed the state’s economic development efforts for two of the Commonwealth’s largest industries – agriculture and forestry – while serving as manager of the office of business development at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and previously, as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for Governor McAuliffe.