Official Southwest Virginia Branding And Tourism Region Announced

Official Southwest Virginia Branding And Tourism Region Announced

October 19, 2016

ABINGDON, VA – Yesterday, the efforts of many became a reality as the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation unveiled the new branding for Southwest Virginia.

swva-text001Delegate Terry G. Kilgore and Bill Shelton of the Department of Housing and Community Development spoke about the hard work that has been put in since 2003 and how the venture truly spurred from partners wanting to develop the region. The new branding will help in the community development efforts in SWVA and further enhance opportunities for economic impact.

Rita McClenny, President of Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), was in attendance and unveiled the state tourism map for Virginia, which included the Southwest Virginia region. “Tourism is going to continue to thrive and grow, not only in this region, but around the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Southwest Virginia’s counties and cities collected almost $25 million in local travel related tax revenue in 2015, which further illuminates the increasing role that tourism plays in Southwest Virginia’s economy. Virginia Tourism Corporation has worked alongside the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation for months while developing the regional brand. The partnership with VTC has been instrumental in developing Southwest Virginia as a region. Rita added that increasing visitors to the region will only further aid in their desire to want to live, work and play in the region.

southwest_virginia_map_swvaTodd Christensen, Director of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation, stated that the Southwest Virginia branding effort began with the initiation of The Crooked Road in 2003. He added that “For the past several years, the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation has acted as a facilitator to involve scores of collaborative partners in developing an open access brand.” With travel expenditures in Southwest Virginia increasing by 52% and a revenue increase of almost $337 million since 2004, stakeholders from around the Commonwealth of Virginia recognized a need to partner together to produce a region-wide initiative in Southwest Virginia.

Yesterday’s press conference at Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway, was a grand kickoff to a destination brand that is representative of 19 counties and four cities in both the Heart of Appalachia and Blue Ridge Highlands areas (Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe Counties, City of Bristol, City of Galax, City of Norton, City of Radford).

Prior to launching “the most aggressive regional branding initiative that has ever been undertaken in the United States,” Ben Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow & Associates led the team, visited all 19 counties, 54 towns and four cities, and helped to shape and mold the Southwest Virginia brand, “A Different Side of Virginia.” Ben added that “The focus that has been put on changing this place, while preserving this place is truly admirable” and he is “honored to have played a part in the process.”

Jenna Wagner, the Foundation’s Public Relations and Marketing Director, challenged those around the region to become “Southwest Virginia brand ambassadors” and to tell the stories of Southwest Virginia. “Our partners and brand ambassadors are one our most valuable assets when it comes to promoting our region to the nation and the world. Today was an amazing day for Southwest Virginia.”

Yesterday’s event showcased ‘Round the Mountain artisans, Jean Condon, Paula Kahn and Hannah Martin. Their work, some of which integrated the new Southwest Virginia branding, is on display at Heartwood in Abingdon, VA. Ralph Stanley II and The Clinch Mountain Boys entertained guests throughout the reception with their original sound, native to Southwest Virginia. Chef Charles Parker of Heartwood prepared an incredible Appalachian cuisine menu for attendees to enjoy while exploring assets that Southwest Virginia has to offer. It was truly a memorable day, reflective of Southwest Virginia’s story.


Photo Credit: Billy Bowling

About Southwest Virginia

Tucked in the mountains of Southwest Virginia is a vibrant culture of music, craft and stunning natural beauty. It’s a region of spectacular views and rich natural resources. Rooted deep in history, this culture is Authentic. Distinctive. Alive. Time spent in the region adds up to something much more than a simple getaway. A different side of Virginia. And a great place to visit for a week’s vacation – or to make a home for a lifetime.

About the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation

The Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation is the coordinating body for cultural heritage tourism and economic development efforts fostering Southwest Virginia’s creative economy.  The Foundation provides vision, guidance, and resources to sustain and grow the economy through preservation, revitalization, and marketing the quality of life, which is authentic, distinctive, and alive in the Southwest Virginia region. More information about Southwest Virginia and The Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation can be found at

About Virginia Tourism Corporation

For more information about Virginia Tourism Corporation, please visit

About DHCD

For more information about the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, please visit


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For more information please feel free to contact, Jenna Wagner. Public Relations & Marketing Director, Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation; Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

One Heartwood Circle | Abingdon, VA 24210

276.492.2422 (w) | 276-274-4213 (c) |

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