FRIENDS OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA CELEBRATES NATIONAL TRAVEL & TOURISM WEEK WITH FINAL ‘SPRING BREAK BLITZ’ PRESENTATION & LAUNCH OF FREE BISCUIT FRIDAY AT HEARTWOOD
ABINGDON, VA – Friends of Southwest Virginia, a regional community and economic development organization focused on the creative economy, will celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week on Friday, May 11 with the finale to their Spring Break Blitz and the launch of a new Friday visitor promotion at Heartwood: Gateway to Southwest Virginia.
Friends of Southwest Virginia is a partnership of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the communities of the region to reimagine the economy through creative initiatives based on the unique cultural and natural assets of this one-of-a-kind place and people.
The staff of Friends of Southwest Virginia has been on the road over two weeks to visit all 19 counties and four independent cities to host community chats as part of a public outreach blitz. The final Community Chat will take place at Heartwood from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, May 11th. The community chat is open to the public from throughout the entire region. Heartwood is located at 1 Heartwood Circle in Abingdon on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College just off exit 14.
The blitz has served as the launch of a new communications program for Friends focused on connecting communities with the important regional work happening across 19 counties, four cities, and 54 towns in Southwest Virginia. The blitz is the start of a new series of regional meetings, a new website, new email communications, new social media and more to keep local businesses and community leaders in touch with regional efforts.
Friday will also be the launch of ‘Free Biscuit Fridays’ at Heartwood. For the entire summer of 2018, visitors and residents alike can stop by Heartwood on Friday mornings from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. for a free homemade biscuit per person present. The promotion will continue throughout the summer every Friday.
In celebration of National Tourism Week, the inaugural Free Biscuit Friday will also feature regional artisans and outdoor recreation businesses through a mini-expo. Visitors can learn from generational artisans from the region or discover natural assets hiding in the backyard of Southwest Virginia.
Heartwood, constructed in 2011, is the gateway to Southwest Virginia with a regional visitor center, an Artisan Marketplace supporting over 300 ‘Round the Mountain Artisans from throughout the region, a stage as a major venue on The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail, and a restaurant featuring Central Appalachian cuisine with over 60% of ingredients sourced from the region.
“Southwest Virginia is the greatest place on Earth, and we want you to discover or rediscover it during National Travel and Tourism Week, so stop by our community chat if you are a small business owner or community stakeholder, or just stop by and have a biscuit and learn more about this incredible place we call home,” said Chris Cannon, Executive Director for the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Friends of Southwest Virginia. “Whether you are a visitor from abroad or you’ve lived your entire life down the road, there’s always something new to discover right here in Southwest Virginia.”
The event is planned as part of the 35th annual National Travel and Tourism Week (May 6-12), which unites communities across the country to celebrate what travel means to American jobs, economic growth and personal well-being.
“Just look at the numbers. Travel supports one in nine American jobs, including 21,086 full time jobs in Southwest Virginia according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the United States Travel Association,” said Cannon. “Overall, that same research show that tourism has an impact of over $1.01 billion dollars throughout the region in the form of cash registers ringing in regional attractions, small businesses, and our community downtowns.”