By Ammie Ruddle
Tourism could be the key to the future of Pendleton County.
County commissioners, members of the Pendleton County Economic and Community Development Authority board and members of the County Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as owners of small businesses, gathered on July 26 at NRocks Outdoor Adventure in Circleville to discuss tourism expansion.
Among the attendees were Ennis Smith, the state’s tourism director of destination development, and Amanda Legg, West Virginia tourism grants coordinator.
The pair presented information regarding potential assistance with marketing on tourism.
Smith discussed ways to assist with marketing, tax credits, workforce assistance and training. She said they will be working with PCEDA officials to offer these programs to local businesses for tourism efforts.
She also announced that the WV Department of Tourism has $5.1 million in funds to be distributed in grants for tourism within the state.
A portion of the grant money will be directed to the West Virginia Department of Education for the community and technical college program to develop a curriculum centered around tourism.
In addition, a portion of the money will go to county EDAs for tourism and hospitality training. Smith said the hope is that the program for tourism will be launched later this year, but added it may begin in 2023.
The attendees discussed how the programs may benefit them in the long run. Many of the questions asked were centered on navigating the website and if the tax credits apply to their small business.
“Businesses can receive a 25% on sales if they have invested $1 million,” Smith said. “And they can receive a 35% credit if they are on or next to a national park.”
Travis Olson, a representative from a mountain ride cycling company in Fairmount, presented a video from the Gravel Up Spruce Knob bike race.
Olson encouraged the focus on expanding tourism in Pendleton County. “My goal is to show people how beautiful it is here,” he said.