The funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission will promote tourism in Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Randolph, Talladega and Tallapoosa counties. Most of the counties are within a triangular slice of Alabama where active gold mining started in the early 1800s, and panning for gold remains a modern-day attraction.
“Alabama’s Piedmont region and Appalachian foothills offer spectacular scenery, fascinating history, wonderful attractions and great food and lodging,” Bentley said. “I hope this funding will lead more people to discover the great things this part of Alabama offers.”
The University of Alabama’s Center for Economic Development will work with chambers of commerce, government agencies, merchant groups and interested persons to identify and promote tourism opportunities in each of the counties.
A website will be developed to highlight attractions and recreational opportunities that have the most potential to attract visitors. During a series of 18 meetings, local groups will learn how to market attractions within their area and develop a strategic plan that promotes the region.
A few of the region’s attractions are listed below; those that extend across county lines appear under the county containing the largest portion:
Calhoun County: Anniston Museum of Natural History, Chief Ladiga (Silver Comet Trail).
Chambers County: Chattahoochee River and West Point Lake.
Cherokee County: Weiss Lake and Cherokee Rock Village.
Clay County: Blue Berry Festival and Alabama Gold Camp.
Cleburne County: Talladega National Forest and Terrapin Creek (canoeing).
Coosa County: Hatchet and Weogufka creeks (canoeing); Flagg Mountain Trail.
Randolph County: Lake Wedowee and Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail
Talladega County: Talladega International Super Speedway and DeSoto Caverns
Tallapoosa County: Lake Martin and Horseshoe Bend National Military Park
Congress established ARC in 1965 as a supplemental grant program to raise the standard of living, improve the quality of life and promote economic development in portions of the 13 Appalachian mountain states, including 37 counties in Alabama.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the ARC program in Alabama. ADECA administers a wide range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, workforce development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.