By Fernando Rodriguez
The Braxton County Development Authority, the Elk River Trail Foundation, and members of the WV Rails-To-Trails Council, sponsored a well attended meeting held at the Sutton Fire Department Annex on Tuesday August 23, 2022. The purpose of the meeting was to present and gather feedback on a plan of recommendations for the Town of Sutton to benefit from the tourism which will result from the Elk River Trail.
The Elk River Rail and Water Trail will attract users to Clendenin, Clay, Gassaway and Sutton. Currently, the Elk River Rail-Trail has 28 miles open for use to cyclists, hikers, and equestrians, with boat and fishing accesses along the trail. Future plans will extend the rail trail to 54 miles.
The plan, developed by Downtown Strategies, “an environmental and economic development consulting firm that strengthens economies, sustains healthy environments, and builds resilient communities,” will identify business development, marketing, enhanced access to the trail, and community improvements that will facilitate the growth of the economies of communities along the trail, in this case, specifically Sutton.
Joey James, Principal member of Downtown Strategies and multi-disciplinary researcher specializing in sustainable economic development, and Brennan Williams, Community and Economic Development Planner for Downtown Strategies, previewed the plan as it was projected on a screen for all to see. The goal of the plan is to develop strategies to secure revenue from the increase in tourism revenue resulting from visitors to the proposed increase access to the Elk River from Sutton, as well as recommendations for new businesses in the area and improvements to the town to make it more attractive to visitors.
Terrel Ellis, President of Terrell Ellis & Associates, Executive Director of Advantage Valley, West Virginia, Program Manager for the Braxton County Development Authority, and so many other hats, is the hard-working orchestrator and link between all the organizations involved in this project. Terrell presented information on the Fostering Advantages for Start Ups & Entrepreneurial Resurgence in WV (FASTER WV), an organization which provides small business owners access to markets, financing, and education.
As soon as the plan is completed, it will be available at the BCDA Website https://www.braxtoncountywv.com/ and the Elk River Trail Foundation Website https://elkrivertrail.org/
For more information visit https://elkrivertrail.org/ https://wvrailtrails.org/ https://www.braxtoncountywv.com/ and https://wvbusinesslink.com/2022/07/22/faster-wv-boosting-entrepreneurship-startups-and-business-expansion/
By Fernando Rodriguez