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NRGRDA seeks millions in federal funds for multi-state outdoor rec. development

The New River Gorge Reg. Dev. Authority (NRGRDA) is leading the charge on a six-state...
The New River Gorge Reg. Dev. Authority (NRGRDA) is leading the charge on a six-state initiative to pull millions of dollars into the Appalachian states’ outdoor recreation economies.(wvva)
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 12:49 PM EST
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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) - The New River Gorge Reg. Dev. Authority (NRGRDA) is leading the charge on a six-state initiative to pull millions of dollars into the Appalachian states’ outdoor recreation economies.

The agency has applied for a 500,000 grant for the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

NRGRDA Exec. Dir. Jina Belcher worked alongside the WVU Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative’s (OEDC) Assistant Dean, Dr. Danny Twilley, to lead the regional collaboration for the Outdoor Recreation Industry and Vibrant Economies Strategies (Outdoor RIVERS) project.

In an interview with WVVA News on Wednesday, Belcher said the funding would help the states coordinate their efforts when it comes to addressing supply chain issues, outdoor maintenance operations, workforce training, job creation, and a host of other issues that will help grow the outdoor recreation economy.

“If and when awarded Phase I, we will then spend our time from December to March 15, packaging those eight projects and identifying what those look like for Phase II funding, which is up to 100 million dollars for the eight projects.”

Belcher credits the Appalachian Regional Commission and Co-Chair Gayle Manchin for their help in facilitating the project.

“Our advocacy strategy focuses on ensuring that the Outdoor RIVERS proposal is considered by the U.S. Commerce Department as a regional collaborative grant and not simply as a competitor to the other West Virginia proposals also being  considered,” she said. “This robust proposal is well positioned to broadly support the grass-roots state-focused proposals across Central Appalachia. Ideally, our six-state outdoor economy collaborative would be funded as well as one or more West Virginia-specific proposals,” she added.

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