Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that the Town of Ashland will receive $20,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) Regional Marketing Program (RMP). In total, VTC awarded more than $3.2 million for 236 local and regional tourism marketing programs across the state to help increase visitation and revenue for Virginia’s localities through tourism.
The Town received a $20,000 grant for the future development and marketing of Berkleytown Heritage Park. The funding request was submitted in partnership with the Hanover County Black Heritage Society and the Hanover Branch of the NAACP.
"We are grateful to VTC for this funding, which will contribute greatly to our storytelling and marketing efforts around the future Berkleytown Heritage Park," said Martha J. Miller, Community Engagement Manager for the Town of Ashland.
Using the hub and spoke tourism partnership model, Virginia entities partner to apply for funding. Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention, and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other tourism-related businesses.
“VTC’s tourism marketing and sponsorship programs are designed to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, to stimulate new tourism marketing through partnerships, and to extend the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand to drive visitation,” said Rita McClenny, VTC President and CEO.
“VTC’s marketing and sponsorship programs are powerful incentives creating tourism partnerships across Virginia that are a robust part of Virginia’s economic ecosystem,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “From first-time applicants like Foxfield Races and Paradise Springs Winery to large music festivals in Hampton Roads and Southwest Virginia driving inbound overnight visitation, these programs show that tourism and tourism partnerships help Virginia’s vibrant communities grow and thrive.”
“Driving inbound out-of-state overnight visitation is a key economic strategy and the VTC grant and sponsorship programs help create unique partnerships that have tangible economic impacts across Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “Many of these programs also support regional marketing initiatives designed to encourage Virginians to explore their own state.”
Ms. Miller added, "In addition to providing green space and walking trails for residents and visitors to Ashland, the Town hopes this space will serve as a destination for history travelers, schools, and historical societies, as well as, honor the significant contributions of the African-American community in Ashland and commemorate the places that were central to black life in Ashland, including the John M. Gandy Training School."
The Town expects to break ground on the new heritage park project in early 2024. Story collection for signage throughout the park, as well as accompanying multimedia components, are being done in partnership with current and former Berkleytown residents, Hanover County Black Heritage Society, and faculty from Randolph-Macon College's Communications Studies and Black Studies Departments.