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Tucked in the majestic Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia is a vibrant culture of tradition, food, music, and craft. It’s a region of spectacular scenery, abundant outdoor recreation, and rich natural resources. Rooted deep in history, this culture is authentic, distinctive, and alive!

Together with the 19 counties, four cities, and 53 towns of the region, we’re building a sustainable creative economy that preserves, protects, and interprets our rich heritage and natural resources, creates jobs, and welcomes both visitors and new businesses to our region every single day.

The Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace {formerly Heartwood}, a 29,000-square-foot artisan gateway near the state border just off Interstate 81, introduces Southwest Virginia (SWVA) to the world and serves as a visitor center, retail center for local crafts, music venue, and community space. 

We are enhancing opportunities for outdoor recreation in our mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes – and growing the appreciation of the incredible diversity of plants and animals that make SWVA so special. The region has more than $6 million of outdoor recreation in operation or planned for future projects.

We are revitalizing our downtowns with artisan studios, coffee shops, community centers, gift, specialty and antique shops, and more. And cultural centers, where people can hear live music, find one-of-a-kind treasures, talk to interesting folks and get a home-cooked meal, are now the norm in SWVA.

For some time, Southwest Virginia was without a unified brand. Through an extremely detailed branding process, the region is now sharing the refreshed brand with the world. 

A partner organization, the ‘Round the Mountain artisan network helps craftspeople build their businesses, learn new skills, and share their inspiration. The network promotes 15 community-driven artisan trails to support studios, craft shops, farms, wineries, and more throughout the region and maintains a directory of artisans, craft venues, and agriculture and winemaking businesses.

Another key partner organization, The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail connects nine major sites where the region’s unique music can be heard. Music jams – informal opportunities to get together and play – happen almost every night of the week across the region. There are festivals, concerts, and competitions every weekend in the spring, summer, and autumn to celebrate the birth of American music in these mountains.[/text][text delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” id=”” class=””]

Southwest Virginia. We’re authentic. Distinctive. Alive. And a great place to visit for a week’s vacation – or to make a home for a lifetime with a new business. Click To Tweet

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Southwest Virginia includes 19 counties, four independent cities, and 53 towns located on the southern and western border of Virginia. 

Its 8,600 square miles – more than a fifth of Virginia’s total – are located along mountain ridges and in fertile valleys, with two national parks, 11 state parks, and over a thousand square miles of national and state forests. 

It’s where you’ll find a culture of music and craft that is authentic, distinctive, and alive. A natural landscape that is breathtaking in its magnitude and scope. A place where the pace of life is slower and people are more friendly. A premier place for a wide variety of outdoor recreation.

By capitalizing on the unique qualities of our region, Southwest Virginia utilizes its cultural and natural assets to build a comprehensive, long-term, sustainable economy through initiatives like the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace (formerly Heartwood), The Crooked Road, ‘Round The Mountain, and related cultural heritage organizations and venues that promote entrepreneurial and employment opportunities.

About Southwest Virginia


The Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission, established in 2008 by the Virginia General Assembly and transitioned to the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation in 2011, works as the lead in developing and coordinating the creative economy in Southwest Virginia. Through a supporting non-profit, the Friends of Southwest Virginia, businesses and individuals help artists, craftspeople, localities, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs mobilize and succeed.

The creative economy movement is defined by innovative business development techniques. From the arts and music of the region to cultural goods and services capitalized through tourism to research and development, the joint work of the Foundation and the non-profit is revolutionizing the rural economic development system of Southwest Virginia and providing new jobs for the region.

A multifaceted plan identifies the cultural and natural assets of the region; coordinates initiatives, organizations, and venues engaged in cultural and natural heritage toward more efficient operations for all partner organizations; and develops a comprehensive strategy and capital improvements plan to maximize the impact of state investments in this significant restructuring effort. 

Key initiatives include: 

  • Branding and marketing Southwest Virginia to the world as a distinct culture and destination 
  • Developing and sustaining the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace (formerly Heartwood) 
  • Expanding outdoor recreation development initiatives and marketing throughout the region 
  • Planning and implementation of downtown revitalization throughout the region to instill a high quality of life within our communities and promote them to the world for a broad spectrum of economic development opportunities

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