12.14.17

Senators Burr, Tillis Introduce Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis released the following statements regarding the introduction of S. 2225, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act of 2017:

“I’m excited today to take a critical step forward in extending the authorization for the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area,” said Senator Burr. “This program has boosted the tourism economy in our state by billions with only a fraction of that coming from federal coffers. By extending this authorization for an additional four years, millions more will be able to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and culture of western North Carolina for a long time to come.”

“The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area plays a vital role in the Western North Carolina tourism industry, creating thousands of jobs and contributing billions of dollars to the local economy” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud to partner with Senator Burr to introduce legislation extending this important program so we can continue to preserve the unique culture and natural beauty of our great state.”

Background Information:

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (BRNHA) was established in 2003 to preserve and develop the distinctive culture of Western North Carolina and South Appalachia.  It spans 25 counties across the western portion of North Carolina, including the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, two of the most visited National Parks in the country. In the last 15 years, this National Heritage Area (NHA) has provided more than 154 grants totaling $2.1 million, with more than double that leveraged in local and private investment. In all, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area supports more than 30,000 jobs and boasts an annual economic impact of $2.39 billion. The BRNHA also provides support to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center near Asheville, NC, which hosts more than 100,000 annual visitors.

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Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, NC

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Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC

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Mount Mitchell, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC