By Kimber Ray
Residents and community leaders came together in Dungannon, Va., this February for the official launch of a new regional project, Hometowns of the Clinch.
Participating communities, which currently include Dungannon, Tazewell, Richlands, Honaker, Cleveland, Cedar Bluff and St. Paul, will encourage economic development along the Clinch River — one of the most biodiverse river ecosystems in the United States.
Their connection to this unique resource has communities excited about the potential to promote their region as a global destination for outdoor recreation tourism. By sharing a unified marketing message with branding such as brochures, signage, t-shirts and patches, participating communities expand their ability to attract publicity.
The Clinch River Valley Initiative, a collaborative group of local stakeholders formed in 2010, organized Hometowns of the Clinch as part of ongoing efforts to revitalize the historically coal-dependent region. To participate in the project, communities must be actively engaged in the initiative and develop resources to support local tourism and entrepreneurship.
The initiative has already seen a number of successes. Several river outfitter and rental companies have opened to take advantage of the growing number of river access points, new trails and recreation guides have been developed and, with the accompanying growth in tourism, one town recently opened its first hotel in years.
This March, Hometowns of the Clinch Entrepreneurship Week celebrated the continued success of the region’s small businesses. Several towns hosted free workshops and discussions led by experts in business development and marketing, and there was also a river clean-up, jam sessions and a square dance.
Learn more at clinchriverva.com