The Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development (OED) has helped Dickenson County in its successful efforts to win funding from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to conduct specialized “train-the-trainer” education for the hospitality and tourism industry this summer and fall. OED began working with the community in 2003 on a community visioning process that was funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The training, conducted by Virginia Tech faculty, is for tourism/hospitality businesses and entrepreneurs in Dickenson County, and will focus on hospitality and tourism marketing, community organization, and improving service quality. The goal of the training is to educate and prepare the community of Dickenson County to be a tourism friendly destination and to help make the tourism initiative successful.

Extensive investments in the county’s physical infrastructure to attract tourists have been made including the Ralph Stanley Museum, the Crooked Road - Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, additions to the Breaks Interstate Park, and the Jettie Baker Center. The training conducted by Virginia Tech will address other issues, such as gaps in the community’s civic and human capital.successful.

Rita Surratt, the Dickenson County Chamber of Commerce president and owner of Misty Mountain Cottages, has been hired as the tourism education coordinator. Surratt will work with various tourism groups in the area, including the Dickenson County Tourism Committee and the Dickenson County Chamber of Commerce, to promote and coordinate the training. As she works closely with Virginia Tech’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Surratt will be organizing training for the local entrepreneurs, citizen leaders, local officials, management and staff from service providers such as The Breaks Interstate Park, as well as for boards and commissions.successful.

The Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development played a large role in securing the funding for the training program, acting as a negotiator with the DHCD, helping select Surratt as the tourism coordinator, and writing the grant proposal for the county administrator. In addition, economic development specialists Chad Miller and Sue Caruvana are working with the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management to develop and deliver the training program. successful.

For more information, contact Chad Miller at or (540) 231-8324.

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