The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded two grants totaling $124,960 to Surry and Wilkes counties for implementation of the Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor (YVHC) Partnership’s comprehensive signage and wayfinding program in Caldwell, Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties. The FHWA will administer these funds through its National Scenic Byways Program, which selected the two YVHC projects from a pool of 261 applicants.
Senator Kaye Hagan’s office notified YVHC officials last week that they were awarded a $67,600 grant for the Yadkin Valley Leaf-to-Vine Scenic Byway and $57,360 for the Upper Yadkin Way Scenic Byway. Matching funds will be provided by Surry County, the Tourism Partnership of Surry County, the Dobson Tourism Development Authority, the Jonesville Tourism Development Authority, Wilkes County, Wilkes Chamber of Commerce, and the towns of Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro, and Ronda.
“These grants will provide much-needed funding to continue implementation of the Yadkin Valley Wayfinding Program,” says Helen Ruth Almond, project manager for the YVHC Partnership. “We believe that this will have a significant impact on tourism in northwest NC and the Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor region.”
The Yadkin Valley Leaf-to-Vine Scenic Byway was recently designated as one of NC Department of Transportation’s newest scenic byways, which covers 65 miles through Elkin, Yadkinville, and Dobson. The grant funds will be used for fabricating and installing kiosks at the NC Interstate 77 North Welcome Center and in the towns of Elkin, Jonesville, and Dobson along with eight vehicular signs placed along the byway.
Leslie Schlender, economic development director for the Town of Elkin and chair of the YVHC Partnership, notes that these funds are just in time to implement the newly established Yadkin Valley Wayfinding Program. “We are thrilled to have such timely support for our effort,” said Schlender. “This grant gives our region a tremendous jump-start in our efforts to define the Yadkin Valley destination and to support the various visitor industries within it.”
The Upper Yadkin Way Scenic Byway covers 25 miles on N.C. 268, from Patterson in Caldwell County to Wilkesboro just past W. Kerr Scott Reservoir. Directional signage and kiosks will be located along the byway in Wilkes County, including a kiosk at the Northwest North Carolina Visitor Center and the towns of Ronda, Wilkesboro, and North Wilkesboro.
“I think the [Upper Yadkin Way Scenic Byway] grant gives us greater communication tools for our visitor,” explains Linda Cheek, executive director for the Wilkes Chamber of Commerce. “It makes us more available and informative along with providing a better visitor experience.”
The YVHC Partnership was established to develop place-based economic strategies for northwest North Carolina and to increase visitor spending in the four-county target area. Specifically, the Partnership is focused on increasing recreational infrastructure through the development of a multiuse trail system along the Yadkin River and tourism marketing infrastructure through a comprehensive and integrated wayfinding program.
In January, new gateway signs were installed in Surry and Wilkes counties. Vehicular signage is part of the wayfinding program being developed by MERJE Design and the YVHC Partnership. Other components of this program include development of a regional identity, Web site, mobile Web site, brochure/map, municipal banners, and online and print advertisements.
Helen Ruth Almond