RD40 - Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation 2021 Regional Impact and Annual Report

Executive Summary:

Since March 2020, the world has fundamentally changed. We have had to pivot, change our approach in how we do business, and look for new opportunities to sustain the needs in our local communities, region, and state. Over these past two years, we have learned that when confronted with adversity, our region comes together to overcome everything we face.

At Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation (SWVACHF) and Friends of Southwest Virginia, we are focused on being a strong partner to help rebuild our local economy, create stronger cooperation between businesses and local and state government, be an advocate for our local and regional tourism and economic development partners, and exercise leadership and commitment in the Southwest Virginia region.

This Annual Report showcases how the SWVACHF and Friends of Southwest Virginia have contributed to those objectives and to our overall mission to encourage the economic development of Southwest Virginia through the expansion of cultural and natural heritage ventures and initiatives related to tourism and other asset-based enterprises.

Following is a list of a few of the key initiatives we accomplished in 2021:

Partnership and Community Development Initiatives

• Launched four (4) regional planning initiatives that will result in strategic advances for the SWVA Outdoor recreation industry.
• Cumberland Plateau Outdoor Recreation Economic Analysis and Development Plan
• Mendota Trail Master Development Plan and Economic Impact Study
• Mount Rogers Outdoor Asset Analysis & Development Plan
• Virginia Creeper Trail Conservancy Master Development Plan
• Made significant progress on the following projects within the ARC Power 16 Grant:
· Completed Appalachian Trail Center Construction Phase
· Completed the New River Boat Launches
· High Knob Lake Restoration Projects
• Under contract for the completion of the final three construction projects.
· New River Center in Giles County, Virginia
· High Knob Destination Center in Norton, Virginia
· Haysi River Access in Haysi, Virginia
• Supported the Clinch River Valley Initiative as the group incorporated as a nonprofit organization.
· Executed on the 2019 Strategic Plan
· Assisted with hosting first Annual Hometowns of the

Clinch Symposium

• Supported the Clinch River State Park in development and strategic planning

Marketing Initiatives

•Substantial audience growth of our online audiences during 2021, compared to 2020.
• Digital Assets Obtainment
• In 2021, we were able to gather a wide variety of digital content assets such as photos and video to aid in marketing efforts and content creation
• Relationship Building: In 2021, we had the ability to travel throughout the SWVA region, working with partners to build our relationships and brand image through the Southwest Virginia Podcast and Virtual Community Visits.

Cultural Center Initiatives

• Implemented extensive facility improvements, including lighting upgrades, parking lot and landscaping improvements, and roofing maintenance.
• Reopened the Cultural Center to six (6) days a week.
• Hosted the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Reception in October.
• Launched Christmas in Southwest Virginia – a month-long celebration of the holiday season with special events, photos with Santa, lights, and much more.

‘Round the Mountain Initiatives

• Saw a 16% increase in membership over the past 12 months.
• Expanded our e-commerce store to feature more than 300 artisan items.
• Had 8 new artisans’ jury into the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center

Crooked Road Initiatives

• New Artist-In-Residence Program - open to heritage musicians living in the 19-county and 4-town region of SWVA. Andrew Small of Floyd, Va. was selected as the inaugural artist and will serve from July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022.
• Heritage Music Fund - Established to support musicians with funding assistance for eligible projects, including recording projects, livestream or virtual performance equipment, marketing, and professional development assistance.
• Musicians Advisory Board - Group of working musicians representing different music styles, ages, and parts of the TCR service region provide input on various TCR programs.

Throughout this Annual Report, you will find more information about each of the initiatives listed above, along with information about who we are, our organization’s background, an update on additional projects and initiatives, and tourism and economic development data for the entire Southwest Virginia region.

On behalf of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and Friends of Southwest Virginia team and Board of Directors, we are honored to serve our region and the Commonwealth, and we are excited for all that is ahead for Southwest Virginia.


/s/ Kim Davis
Executive Director