Tourism meeting...

Crowds gathered Tuesday to discuss the importance of bringing tourism to our area with the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Mercer County Economic Development Authority.

BLUEFIELD — A tourism and economic development workshop in Bluefield on Tuesday attracted a large crowd.

Sponsored by the Mercer County Economic Development Authority, the gathering was targeted at those who are looking at ways to bring in tourists. The workshop offered local business owners and guests the opportunity to find answers.

Jamie Null, executive director of the Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “I’m excited to see so many people here who are interested in tourism.”

Null said with tourism being a large part of the county’s economy, it’s essential that tourists continue to visit.

“In order to keep marketing this area we need new tourism attractions,” Null said.

First on the meeting agenda was a presentation by Rob Rice and Travis Parsons of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP).

The two discussed the funding opportunity for businesses on or near abandoned mine sites.

The pilot funding program funds communities completing projects.

According to Rice, President Trump has recently approved $25 million of pilot funding for West Virginia.

By way of the WVDEP and the pilot funding, those seeking aid regarding abandoned mine sites can do so by applying for a grant.

According to Parsons, thousands of applications are sent which makes it nearly impossible for officials to read through every application.

Though applications are only required to be three pages long, Parsons said that being, “Thorough and painting a clear picture,” aids in the selection process.

Funding will only be awarded to those on or adjacent to mine lands that ceased operation before August 3, 1977.

There also will need to be some component of reclamation done to the land, according to Parsons.

Todd Boggess, developer of the ATV Outpost, also addressed the group.

The ATV Outpost, reported to open in the summer, will have cottages, a restaurant, ATV storage, a pub, and a store to offer their guests.

The resort will be able to house plenty of guests, with a collection of 22 cabins.

With the location being in between Bramwell and the edge of McDowell County, it will be perfectly placed.

Other than being the perfect opportunity for ATV tourism, Boggess said the resort will also have a direct connection to the Pocahontas Trail.

Also addressing the event, was Anna Plantz, with the West Virginia Tourism Office.

Further discussing the importance of tourism to our local economy, guests had the chance to ask her questions.

Plantz, director of the partner program, works directly with West Virginia’s partnering with organizations regarding tourism.

This partnering provides jobs, aids the economy, and aids the overall health of the state.

According to the West Virginia Development Office, 12,305 new businesses were started in 2018.

For more information about Mercer County tourism contact Jamie Null at 304-325-8438 or jamie@visitmercercounty.com.

Contact Emily D. Coppola at ecoppola@bdtonline.com

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