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Volume 24, Number 9 — September 2017

The Crooked Road creates annual impact of $9.2 million in Southwest Virginia

August 23, 2016

On a 333-mile route that spans Southwest Virginia, nine major venues and more than 60 affiliated venues and festivals regularly celebrate Southwest Virginia's musical and cultural heritage as part of what is known as The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail.

The Crooked Road promotes events and venues that celebrate the rich, 200-year-old heritage of the region, from weekly jam sessions in country stores, to concerts in major music halls. In doing so, Virginia Tech's Office of Economic Development found that The Crooked Road also brings in approximately $9.2 million to the region and creates 131 jobs in Southwest Virginia annually.

The figures come from an economic impact assessment report issued by the VT OED in March 2016. Among other findings, the assessment reports that approximately 42 percent of Crooked Road attendees are visitors to the region, with some visitors hailing from as far away as Canada, France, Australia and Britain.

These visitors were also likely to take advantage of other Southwest Virginia activities like hiking trails, museums, and shopping, broadening the reach of The Crooked Road's economic impact.

Eight of the 18 Crooked Road venues surveyed also reported an increase in business because of their ties to the music trail. Meanwhile, 47 percent of businesses not affiliated with The Crooked Road expected increases in revenue during events promoted by the non-profit organization.

"The Crooked Road has received national acclaim as a destination because of the investments our communities and their partners have made," said Delegate Terry Kilgore, chairman of the Virginia Tobacco Commission. "This economic study further proves that visitors are choosing to come down The Crooked Road and experience our unique music."

"Southwest Virginia has been ahead of the curve when it comes to rural economic restructuring, with a focus on asset-based development, especially the unique cultural and heritage assets," said Bill Shelton, director of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. "The Crooked Road is a proven economic generator for the region, and this economic study showcases the economic impact the trail is having in communities throughout Southwest Virginia."

Aside from generating positive economic effects, The Crooked Road breeds a sense of pride in Southwest Virginia's heritage across generations of locals and visitors alike.

Funding for The Crooked Road economic impact assessment was provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

A companion video and a complete copy of the assessment report may be accessed from the VT website at http://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2016/08/outreach-crookedroadstudy.html.

To learn more about The Crooked Road, visit www.thecrookedroad.org. For more information about the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development's economic impact assessment, contact Sarah Lyon-Hill at sarahlh@vt.edu.

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