North Carolina’s new virtual trail connects and helps revitalize Main Street community economies by boosting tourism revenues

On April 16, 2021, the North Carolina Department of Commerce Main Street & Rural Planning Center announced the launch of the NC Main to Main Trail, a tourism-based economic revitalization initiative that leverages North Carolina’s regional, cultural and natural assets for prosperity in Main Street communities statewide.

The NC Main to Main Trail is a virtual exploration tool that provides visitors a unique way to experience North Carolina communities. The trail is expected to increase regional connectivity and tourism visitation between the 66 Main Street communities; leverage North Carolina’s outdoor recreational opportunities with retail sales activity and downtown foot traffic; and accelerate COVID-19 recovery for small businesses and cultural amenities located in Main Street communities.

Main Street communities are economic engines for North Carolina,” said Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “Each downtown district features architectural treasures, governmental icons, and cultural attractions. The new NC Main to Main Trail initiative is an additional opportunity to support the economic recovery of North Carolina’s rural communities and small businesses.

Divided into eight regions, the Main to Main Trail is defined by the state’s Prosperity Zones: Western, Northwest, Southwest, Piedmont-Triad, North Central, Sandhills, Northeast and Southeast. Each region of the trail has a descriptive paragraph about the offerings, a graphic shield, a map that connects the Main Street communities, and links to other trails that can be explored.

All North Carolina Main Street communities can connect their commercial centers with the varied and beautiful natural resources that North Carolina offers, including statewide hiking and cycling trails, blueways and greenways,” added Kenny Flowers, Assistant Secretary for Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division. “Some towns have developed creative and lucrative projects to physically connect their downtown districts with outdoor recreation sites and events, thereby building local capacity to attract tourism based economic development.

Each town’s link highlights their best downtown and outdoor experiences and connects the visitor to the local Main Street program website, VisitNC and local tourism websites. The Main Street Directors are working collaboratively to market their regions and to build events that will attract day trippers and weekenders to explore all that each region has to offer.

We know that visitors are exploring regions of the state when they travel,” said Liz Parham, Director of the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center. “Our goal was to help visitors have a more enriched experience by leveraging the natural assets of the region, with the historic and cultural assets of our state’s downtown districts. Locally owned shops, restaurants, spirits and cultural venues offer visitors many unique options to explore, and the more downtown traffic that is generated, the more economically sustainable our small businesses and our rural communities become.

Since 1980, the State of North Carolina has been selecting cities and towns of all sizes to carry the distinction as designated North Carolina Main Street communities. These communities are actively engaged in the Main Street America network and are following the Main Street Approach™ to revitalize their downtown districts.

Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Commerce Main Street & Rural Planning Center.

Explore the NC Main to Main Trail.

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