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VCEDA closes on HOA tourism grant

Staff report • Jan 13, 2018 at 12:30 PM

LEBANON — The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) has closed on a grant of up to $150,000 to the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority (HOA) to assist with the marketing of tourism-related capital improvements in HOA’s service region.

The VCEDA board approved the grant from the authority’s tourism capital improvement matching fund on Dec. 21 and closed on the commitment on Thursday.

“Tourism is an important industry target in the coalfield region, and VCEDA has been supportive of that over the years, approving funding for numerous projects throughout the coalfield region, including Spearhead Trails, the Ralph Stanley Museum, the Historic Crab Orchard Museum, the Raven Theater and Coal Museum, the Southern Gap Visitors Center and others,” said VCEDA Executive Director Jonathan Belcher.

“We are now pleased to approve these marketing dollars to help (HOA) increase the marketing of the tourism assets in our region and assisting tourism entrepreneurs and tourism industry businesses to increase the number of visitors traveling to the region and spending money at lodging, restaurants, retail and attractions.”

HOA Executive Director Kitty Barker said her group plans to implement an aggressive marketing campaign with the assistance of the grant money.

“The proposed marketing campaign will center on powersports, outdoor recreation, music and arts, the creation of new collateral material, and an increase in search engine optimization and social media,” she said. “A primary focus of the marketing campaign will be off-road trail users and motorcycle and sports car users.”

Barker said the marketing campaign will support tourism destinations such as Spearhead Trails (a regionwide network of all-terrain vehicle trails) and the Appalachian Backroads initiative with its focus on motorcycles and sports cars.

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