Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling attended a round table meeting Monday at the Draper Mercantile and Trading Company to discuss the Draper Corridor Development project. Area representatives at the meeting included individuals from the Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley, Pulaski Farm to Table and the local Virginia Department of Tourism.
The Draper Corridor Development project is a mile-long community development initiative in Pulaski County aimed at improving the economy and tourism. The visit from Bolling was to demonstrate the governor’s administration’s continued interest in economic development through cultural heritage tourism and creative economy pursuits.
Representatives who brought the communities innovative ideas included Debbie Lineweaver of Farm to Table. She spoke of the programs need and desire of accruing a permanent space for an educational facility and a certified kitchen.
The kitchen would allow local producers to sale their good for profit, as they were prepared in a certified location. Current locations the program is looking at include the Old Draper Cannery for the certified kitchen and the old Draper Elementary School for the education facility.
Judy Ison, director of the Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley, presented the idea of helping Draper artisans receive the same classes offered in Pulaski without leaving their community. Ison said the hope is to be able to offer the center’s classes via satellite at the Draper Mercantile and Trading Company.
One major concern presented to Bolling during the meeting came from Donnie Turner, director of tourism in Carroll County. Turner hopes to connect areas farther south on the New River with Pulaski County by using Draper as the end point for river recreational activities.
However, there are three hydroelectric dams that stand in the way of the path. While there are designated land paths to cross the dams, Turner said they are often long, unsteady and filled with obstacles.
Ideally, Turner would like help from Bolling to cut water paths around the dams so visitors never have to leave the river.
However, clear, easily navigated paths on land around the dams would be sufficient.
Bolling said if any of the representatives have specific ways their administration can help achieve their goals to please send information to his office and he will help to the best of his abilities.