Over 50 persons gathered at Burr Oak Lodge near Glouster for an “All-Sector Meet Up” in late October, meant to stimulate business and product development around The Winding Road: Ohio’s Rising Appalachia (a sub-region of Ohio’s Hill Country). Organized by Winding Road stakeholders, Heritage Ohio and Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area, the event shared the entrepreneurial success stories in the outdoor adventure, guiding, local foods, destination tourism related businesses, heritage and arts sectors. Morning break-outs focused on success stories, networking and product development within the various sectors which have been engaging in “meet-ups” during the past year. After a lunch address by State Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), afternoon round tables connected participants with useful resources in a Winding Road Cafe setting where locally produced coffee, legal spirits and snacks were available to participants as they visited information tables and networked with experts and colleagues. Among the resource persons available at the tables were representatives of financing, electronic media marketing, ticketing, and packaging of experiences.
The event was facilitated by Tracy Kunkler, of Circle Forward Consulting who is working with organizers of this collaborative network of stakeholders to establish a system for planning, decision making and governance. Kunkler has a deep understanding of collaborative networks and how contemporary strategies are needed to make them successful. Kunkler will be working with the coordinating group formed around the Winding Road network to help plan the next steps for initiative, including funding proposal development, interpretive guide training and creation of shared services. Current strategies include growing, refining and marketing the brand, increasing experiential products and tourism-related businesses around authentic assets, and the growth of interpretive programs and guides.
OHCHA sees the future of it’s efforts, in part, being tied to helping networks and brands form that can produce an experiential economy around authentic assets in Appalachian Ohio. These networks can be organized around geographic sub-regions, thematic trails and sector related experiences that can value and share the unique sense of place we experience in the hill country of Ohio. For more information about our Winding Road effort and developing networks similar to this in our 31-county region, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 740-394-2852. Our capacity to directly assist these networks is limited due to paid staff capacity, but stakeholders in the Winding Road region are abundant and many are willing to share ideas and strategies that might stimulate leadership around your ideas to organize an initiative and/or brand around a theme, or sub-region that highlights assets in our greater region.