A new logo, regional visitor brochure, website, visitor kiosks, and vehicular signage are part of a comprehensive program being developed to position the “Yadkin Valley” as a regional tourism destination.
Lynn Minges, assistant secretary for Tourism, Marketing, and Global Branding for the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and other local dignitaries were on hand for remarks.
“This is a very exciting initiative that will yield big results for the four-county region,” said Minges. “This Yadkin Valley program will be an important prototype for our other rural communities working on tourism development.”
The Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor is developing a “place-based” economic development strategy to reposition the upper “Yadkin Valley” of northwest N.C. as a regional tourism destination focused on recreation, cultural heritage, and wineries. “The Partnership has been working closely with MERJE Design,” said Helen Ruth Almond, project manager.
“They are one of the top-rated environmental design agencies in the country, and have extensive experience in North Carolina and in rural communities. They recently designed programs in Asheville and Buncombe County, Fayetteville and Cumberland County, Greenville, and Cary, N.C.”
Connected by nearly 130 miles of the Yadkin River, YVHC is home to 36 wineries, 128 miles of N.C. Scenic Byways, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Stone Mountain and Pilot Mountain State Parks, W. Kerr Scott Reservoir and Recreation Area, NPS Overmountain Victory Trail, 11 NC Civil War Trail sites, the nationally designated Dark Mountain cycling trail, and nearly 73 miles of trails and greenways throughout the region.
A 2008 economic impact study by DESS Business Research showed that the Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor, when fully developed, could generate $4-$6 million dollars annually in economic impact, as well as up to 75 new jobs as a result of increased visitor spending.
The Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor Partnership, a four-county regional collaboration between Surry, Wilkes, Yadkin and parts of Caldwell counties, was established in 2005 as part of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. Its mission is to increase recreational infrastructure in the upper Yadkin Valley region through a multiuse trail system along the Yadkin River and to develop additional tourism infrastructure through an integrated wayfinding program for visitors to the region.
It is a grassroots coalition of local and state government agencies, county tourism leaders, and representatives from attractions around the region that are working together to promote and encourage regional tourism and trail development.
Golden LEAF, NC Rural Center, Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, National Park Service Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and local government and agency contributions helped fund the Wayfinding Program.