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‘The sky is the limit’: City of Pikeville & Breaks Interstate Park given grant to collaborate and stimulate growth in the region

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 6:01 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Pikeville Mayor Jimmy Carter announced Thursday, Sep. 16 the city has received a $50,000 federal grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) POWER initiative and the city will also contribute $12,500 to perform a feasibility study on the Breaks Interstate Park, with whom the city partnered with, and its potential to become a major outdoor recreation tourism attraction.

“It’s a feasibility study that will give us some strategies, some action items as we go forward,” said Pikeville City Manager Philip Elswick. “Places that we can look for growth, you know, maybe some things that we should avoid that wouldn’t have the economic impact.”

Officials say the study is coming at a great time because of the development of the new US-460 addition between Shelbiana in Pike County, Ky. and the Breaks in Dickenson County, Va.

“One of the things I’m most excited about is the fact that this study is coming as the new 460 connector is being developed,” said Breaks Interstate Park Superintendent Austin Bradley. “When that’s opened, the drive time between Pikeville and the Breaks will be almost cut in half.”

A large focus of the study is to create a plan of action to draw tourists from around the country to the region and have them return to the region again in the future.

“Our experience has been when you get somebody to come to Appalachia they’re going to come back,” said Elswick. “Where ever they come, it’s important that they know the whole gambit of what’s going on here and come back in the future to visit the other parts of the region they maybe didn’t see before.”

Bradley also says he could see the relationship of Pikeville and the Breaks becoming one similar to the relationship of Tennesee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park with the surrounding areas of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, a famous vacation destination in Appalachia.

“We really believe that the sky is the limit in terms of visitation growth for the park and hopefully,” said Bradley. “Economic impact for the city of Pikeville and our surrounding areas in Dickenson, Pike, and Buchanan County.”

Officials say this is only the first phase of a large plan to boost tourism and stimulate economic growth in the region.

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