If McDowell leaders truly believe that tourism is the key to the future, why are they providing no goods/services to visitors?
All summer I have heard some people say that is would be hard to attract tourists without a major highway. But the truth of the matter is: the tourists are here.
The photo above was taken today at Northfork a town where three trails from the Hatfield & McCoy system drops into. Northfork has the potential to be the “model” town for the county yet there are no grocery stores or gas stations in the town. Shawn Penwarden does ATV repair and sells bbq but most of the goods and services bought by the riders are purchased in Mercer County. Ashland Resort brings in hundreds of new tourists each weekend but what is the town of Northfork doing to cater to these riders? Today, riders told me they came for the history and asked if there was a place where they could buy a postcard in town. Others said they were looking for fresh produce. It was heartbreaking to have to tell them, “no, I’m sorry, you can’t find those things in this town.”
People asked me, “What happened here? Why are there so many abandoned homes?”
The most shocking part was that every single rider I spoke to said they wished they could invest in some property in the area.
So my question is: If visitors can see value and potential in investing, why can’t the leaders of McDowell?
Bottom line: there is a demand and I would like to see leaders acknowledge the potential and run with it. Unless McDowell County takes advantage of tourism money coming in, there is no point to even have the Hatfield & McCoy trail listed under economic development. Money will continue to leave and no investments within the local economy will occur. It’s common sense folks.