Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Announces Adventure Tourism Initiative for Eastern Kentucky

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, October 11, 2006  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Samantha Cook

Initiative unveiled at the Appalachian Regional Commission Conference in Pikeville

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher, current Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) States’ Co-Chair, joined ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne Pope today to announce a comprehensive adventure tourism initiative for eastern Kentucky. 

The initiative will provide counties within the ARC region with resources necessary to evaluate existing assets, establish tourism goals and objectives, and effectively plan and market local tourism initiatives. Continued planning and implementation efforts will also enable communities to assist entrepreneurs and businesses owners with expanding or developing businesses related to adventure tourism activities.

“East Kentucky has already seen remarkable success in adventure tourism—from the Black Mountain Recreational Park in Harlan County to the development of the Skyward Trails System to the Elk Restoration Zones,” said Governor Fletcher.  “This initiative is designed to provide a strategy, to promote tourism and to capitalize on the natural environment for this growing industry in this region of the state.”

The plan includes $617,000 in ARC Flex-E grant funding, $100,000 in ARC States’ Co-Chair Committee funds and an additional $70,000 from the Kentucky Department of Tourism. These funds will recommendations for a plan to implement a comprehensive adventure tourism initiative.

The announcement was made during the Appalachian Regional Commission Conference, being held in Pikeville through Friday.

Governor Fletcher also announced funding for the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation.  The $500,000 in ARC funding will provide investment funds for Meritus Ventures, L.P., a rural business investment company which will operate a community development venture capital fund to promote sustainable business growth and generate living-wage jobs.

Governor Fletcher currently serves as the ARC States’ Co-Chair. As states’ co-chair, Governor Fletcher is responsible for representing the 13 ARC governors before Congress and the Bush Administration; serving as a member of various ARC committees; and providing guidance on policy and administrative issues concerning the commission. 

ARC is a federal-state economic development program used to meet infrastructure needs as well as to support education, work force development, leadership and civic capacity building, entrepreneurship, asset-based development and affordable and accessible health care. ARC is federally funded and available to Kentucky’s 51 most eastern and south-central counties. Applications for ARC funds are submitted to the Governor’s Office for Local Development.