New River Initiative
New River Gorge. Photo by Ed Rehbein/Sunbuttrres
The New River connects communities in 21 rural counties across three states (North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia) in southern Appalachia. We are integrating watershed protection with economic revitalization to preserve this American Heritage River—renowned for its wildlife and recreation opportunities. In collaboration with the New River Community Partners, we conducted a watershed-wide survey of conservation and hazard mitigation using GIS technology, launched outreach and education programs and continued its capacity-building initiatives for local leaders.
In 2001, in collaboration with the New River Community Partners and Appalachian State University, we developed a “Virtual Business Park” plan for New River headwater counties through funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The plan features a regional small-business incubator, extensive broadband access, entrepreneurship training and business counseling to support a new business base in this economically depressed region.