BOONE — Through its inclusion in the Appalachian Gateway Community Initiative, Watauga County Economic Development was recently awarded a $5,000 seed grant to study the advancement of the arts along the US 321 corridor between Boone and Blowing Rock. A team organized by Watauga Economic Development, and inclusive of partners representing each community, will work to administer the grant and communicate findings.
The main purpose of the project will be to explore how the arts may be advanced in the existing corridor between Watauga County’s two largest towns, and how the introduction of the arts in this developing area may spur greater economic development.
“The Gateway Community workshop last fall was very informative and beneficial and was a springboard for us to begin thinking about ways to maintain and enhance the gateway corridor of Hwy 321/Middle Fork Greenway/Blue Ridge Parkway going forward,” said Joe Furman, Director of Economic Development for the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. “It is clear that the arts have a tremendous positive impact on local economies. This seed grant will help us explore how to incorporate art into the gateway.”
The team will first survey and collect data from existing land and business owners along the corridor. After this information is collected, the team will create a Request for Qualifications for the completion of an arts integration feasibility study along the corridor to identify opportunities. Once this study has been completed, the team will present findings and seek other local funding sources for integration of art along the corridor.
“The arts have a proven track record of spurring economic development and transforming under-utilized spaces. We are thrilled that the arts are being considered in infrastructure planning for our county,” said Amber Bateman, Executive Director of the Watauga Arts Council. “We look forward to incorporating the arts in the expansion on the Middle Fork Greenway and along the corridor between Boone and Blowing Rock.”
For additional information, contact Joe Furman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (828) 264-3082.
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