By Stephen Smoot
As Pendleton County sets its economic development sights on tourism, the Pendleton Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors named Amber Nesselrodt its new executive director. She was selected after an exhaustive search that commenced last October and will take over officially on Feb. 2.
The CVB in Pendleton County primarily exists to increase recreational tourism in the area. Other counties, such as Kanawha, focus on both tourism and also attracting business and even government related meetings and events. Nesselrodt explains that “the CVB markets Pendleton County’s tourism related businesses, lodging facilities, recreation areas and historic sites.”
Nesselrodt is a lifelong resident of West Virginia and has lived in Pendleton County for 13 years. For approximately a year, she has worked in the Pendleton County Economic and Community Development office as an assistant to Laura Brown, executive director. With the county commission’s blessing, the EDA under Brown has focused increasingly on supporting the tourism industry in the area. As Nesselrodt explains, the state’s tourism numbers have risen even while the industry has seen setbacks nationally. She says that “in Pendleton County, economic development and tourism go hand in hand. Tourism leads to more economic development while also supporting a lot of our existing businesses.”
The county offers a great deal of options for those who enjoy outdoor sports and activities. “Pendleton County has something for everyone,” she says, adding that “we have cycling, hiking, golf, rock climbing, horseback riding, and historical exploration.” Nesselrodt added that she sees exciting opportunities with maple and other food based tourism, particularly since agriculture remains the county’s other important industry with growth potential.
Last year, outgoing county commissioner Gene McConnell described in community forums and elsewhere the importance of developing rock climbing opportunities. While all of West Virginia has incredible beauty and scenery, Pendleton County is one of the few areas that has a competitive advantage in rock climbing offerings. Nesselrodt stated that the county already attracts some outside enthusiasts “because of our unique rock formations and climbing opportunities.” N Rocks allows tourists and locals alike to take advantage of professional services to help climbers enjoy the fun of rock climbing, but safely.
What Pendleton County has to offer does not stop with adventures on its mountains and rivers. “We recognize the value of tourism to help to showcase and also preserve our rich history and traditions,” Nesselrodt said. Tourists come in large numbers to enjoy events highlighting the area’s rich frontier history, such as the Fort Seybert reenactment during the Treasure Mountain Festival. The area also has a number of Civil War sites due to its division between Union and Confederate forces.
Convention and visitors bureaus in the State of West Virginia receive direct support under the law from the hotel and motel taxes, which also include rentals of cabins and Air BNBs. Last year, Pendleton County enjoyed the highest collections of this tax ever, indicating that tourism numbers spiked here as well. In the past, Pendleton County combined the CVB and Pendleton County Chamber of Commerce in a single entity. Differences in mission and difficulties in keeping the finances of the operations separate led the county to approve division into two organizations.
One of the most important requirements for the position comes in love of place, which Nesselrodt expressed repeatedly. “I am so proud to call Pendleton County home,” she stated. Then added “I am excited to be a part of helping to support our businesses while bringing more people to enjoy the wonders that we have here.”
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