John McGee, Virginia Tech assistant professor of forestry and geospatial Extension specialist, will conduct two community workshops to collect local ideas and community preferences for how to boost tourism in the Rocky Knob recreation area of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The first workshop will be held on Thursday, Sept. 4, from 4 to 7 p.m., at The Jacksonville Center in Floyd, Va., at 220 Parkway Lane South, Suite 1. The second will be held on Friday, Sept. 5, from 1 to 4 p.m., in the Community Room at Patrick Henry Community College in Stuart, Va., located at 212 Johnson Street.

The workshops are open to the general public and should be of interest to anyone concerned with community and economic development opportunities, specifically in Floyd and Patrick counties. Local government officials, activists, business owners, and the general public are invited to attend.

A research team from Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Pamplin College of Business received a $266,000 grant from the National Park Service and Blue Ridge Heritage Inc., to work with the public to find ways to make the Rocky Knob area better known to travelers.

The 18-month Destination Centerpiece Project will be conducted in three phases, with work in each phase building on the findings of the previous phase. The work will include an inventory of tourism assets and a variety of surveys and workshops with local community members and tourism experts to identify what the local community wants. McGee is working in conjunction with Nancy McGehee, associate professor of hospitality and tourism management at Virginia Tech, and researchers from Clemson University.

“The project’s goal is to develop a strategy for the area that will attract new tourists and better satisfy the needs of regular visitors, so that they more fully experience the area and make a greater economic impact, while sustaining what is unique and special about the region,” McGehee said.

McGee can be reached for questions or more information regarding the Rocky Knob community workshops at (540) 231-2428 or via e-mail.

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