FRANKFORT, Ky. – Representatives from Kentucky recently traveled to western North Carolina to join approximately 200 delegates at the “Building Creative Communities: Asset Based Economic Development Conference sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
“Forums of this nature provide an invaluable benefit for communities that represent the “front lines” in tourism,” says Randy Fiveash, Commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Tourism. “As planners and strategists for Kentucky’s future, we cannot afford to ignore the importance of tourism’s economic potential in our efforts to create sustainable communities and viable economies. The importance of accessing the tools and resources for our communities to develop tourism-related economic strategies cannot be overstated in relation to the “new economy” where we’re challenged to develop alternatives to manufacturing or industrial-based markets.”
Handmade In America, an organization dedicated to the development of community strategies to enhance our region's national and international role within the handmade field, hosted the event in Ashville, NC. Professionals from over a half dozen states and the nation’s capital gathered to discuss issues relevant to building cultural, natural and structural assets for Appalachia’s economic growth, the craft industry, and the development of economic strategies for the region’s artisan community. The goal of the conference was to provide practical instruction on developing and adapting agriculture, craft, music, Main Streets, literature, cuisine, recreation and other local assets for the new economy.
Kentucky was well represented at the conference, as more than one-quarter of the attendees were from Kentucky communities.
“Judging by the number of Kentuckians who attended the ARC’s Building Creative Communities meeting, we are serious about Asset-based Economic Development,” said Cheryl Moorhead Stone, Director for the Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology at Eastern Kentucky University. “I think this high level of interest makes sense because we are all talking about what is “right” with our region and how we can build upon it. For too long the discussion was about what is wrong in our region. This new initiative looks at what is right and builds on it. Applied to economic development, it is sort of like changing your view from saying the glass is half empty to saying it is half full.”
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The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, exists to promote the Commonwealth as a travel destination, to generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky's economy. This mission is integral to making communities more viable and to providing a valuable legacy for future generations in Kentucky. www.kentuckyunbridledspirit.com