Building Regional Culture and Tourism

Appalachia is a region with unique downtown communities, a vibrant cultural and arts tradition, and diverse natural spaces. The preservation and promotion of these assets supports quality of life for residents and fuels economic development.

ARC investments help communities revitalize historic buildings, plan around local arts and cultural heritage, sustainably utilize outdoor spaces for recreation and tourism, and more.

In Fiscal Year 2020, ARC grants invested nearly $6.4 million in 23 projects to build Regional culture and tourism.

Investment Impact

Fiscal Year 2023
Invested in 59 Projects
Fiscal Year 2023
Jobs Created or Retained
Fiscal Year 2023
Businesses Created or Improved

Revitalizing Appalachia’s Downtowns

Downtowns are often the heart of the community—they are home to many of the Region’s small businesses and entrepreneurs, and serve as focal points for residents and visitors by providing a robust mix of shopping, dining, entertainment, and community services.

Appalachian downtowns are rich in history and heritage, yet many lack the resources needed to attract private investment and grow the local economy.

ARC supports downtown revitalization projects that identify a vision and implement strategies for attracting new economic development. Investments include upgrading pedestrian and bicycle access, façade improvement programs, and comprehensive planning efforts promoting  business growth and tourism.

Promoting Appalachia’s Cultural Heritage

Cultural tourism is a growing economic engine and brings visitors into small towns to shop, eat, play, and sleep.

Visitors, however, are only one part of the tourism ecosystem. Thriving tourism ecosystems must include entrepreneurs, marketers, local businesses, and a flexible workforce, all creating opportunities in hospitality, outdoor recreation, and related local business.

ARC investments help Appalachian communities plan around their art, music, cuisine, history and cultural heritage, and develop tourism ecosystems that help create job opportunities in some of the Region’s most isolated and distressed communities.

Increasing Outdoor Recreation Opportunities

Appalachia’s forests, parks, water, and mountains anchor the Region’s outdoor recreation sector. Offering biking, hiking, off-roading, paddling, and wildlife viewing in these outdoor spaces attracts visitors to the Region and creates job opportunities.

ARC investments not only help develop outdoor experiences, but also connect them to surrounding rural communities. This helps guide visitors into small towns, which boosts local tourism, increases tax revenues and expands existing business and new start-up opportunities.

Investments in Action

Trail Systems: Guiding Communities to Opportunities

Appalachian trails are incredible gateways for attracting outside visitors and increasing quality of life for community members.