newsblue ridge parkway hires firm to create action plan with community input

Blue Ridge Parkway hires firm to create action plan with community input

Blue Ridge Parkway autumn
Linn Cove Viaduct during autumn by J. Scott Graham/Photo courtesy Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has selected Destination by Design of Boone to create an economic development action plan.

The plan would benefit the parkway’s gateway communities in Virginia and North Carolina.

Funding would be provided by two complementary grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration in the amount of $393,193 for Virginia and $517,924 for 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 and tourism.

The foundation has already begun discussion with community leaders from Waynesboro, Va. to Cherokee, N.C., but Destination by Design will host detailed listening sessions in all 29 counties in the parkway’s corridor, as well as regional meetings to explore specific issues and opportunities. The action plan that comes out of this input will identify key projects to advance economic development within the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway, the gateway communities and 16 million annual visitors all depend on each other,” Carolyn Ward, chief executive officer of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, said. “We now have all the pieces in place to move forward together.”

Working on an action plan is the first time in the parkway’s 87-year history that all 29 counties have come together to determine strategies for wide-ranging benefits for the park’s neighboring communities.

“Our entire team is thrilled to be working alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to further unify the region around this world-class asset,” Eric Woolridge, director of planning at Destination by Design, said. “There is so much amazing talent found here in the heart of Appalachia, and we feel especially fortunate for the opportunity to engage with so many great people and communities here in our backyard.”


Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.