A recent study completed by the Appalachian Regional Commission identified that coal production peaked in the Appalachia region in 1990 and has been declining ever since. The changes in America’s energy production have placed significant economic challenges on coal reliant communities. As a result, the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative was launched.
Giles County, home to a recently closed coal-fired power plant in Glen Lyn, partnered with the Friends of Southwest Virginia to build on on-going initiatives to develop its tourism and recreation clusters, while also providing training for entrepreneurship and emerging in-demand occupations. The Regional Commission is working with Giles area partners to develop an action oriented plan to establish destination centers that connect river users to communities.
The project kicked-off on May 24, 2016 in Pembroke. Shortly afterwards, Natalie Warren spent a weekend in Giles County to present on river town experiences, paddle a segment of the New River, and provide recommendations at a community meeting. Ms. Warren, an expedition paddler, formed the non-profit organization Wild River Academy to present rivers as natural, dynamic classrooms for youth.
The POWER funding will also be used to prepare preliminary engineering reports suitable for future construction funding requests, work with experts on river-based community development and investments, and open source marketing packages that highlight potential investment opportunities. The planning phase will be complete by December 2016. For additional information, contact: Elijah Sharp, email@example.com.