Unveiling the new Yadkin Valley Gateway sign on Tuesday wasn’t just a dedication, but also a chance to roll out the Yadkin Valley’s new identity.
The signs give a brand and also physically define the area, said Helen Ruth Almond, project manager of the Heritage Corridor Wayfinding Program.
“We are focused on tourism and quality of life,” Almond said. “We are establishing the Yadkin Valley as a region with wineries, culture, tourism and history. We are anchored by the greenways and focused on working with communities.”
The idea of the Heritage Corridor Wayfinding Program is to bring tourism to the Yadkin Valley. Gateway signs will welcome drivers into the area and brochures and maps will be found at welcome centers. The brochure has a map of the area that shows scenic byways, greenways, trails and attractions.
“There are no county lines on the map,” Almond said. “The idea is for more people to visit, stay longer and spend more money.”
Representatives from Surry, Yadkin and Wilkes counties discussed the positive influence the program would have on their areas.
“Who knew tourism could be a big part of this region,” said Yadkin County Commissioner Chairman Kevin Austin. “There really are no county lines because we have worked so well together on this. This will offer national recognition because we have a great thing to offer.”
Surry County has committed to the whole Wayfinding process including trails, signs and the historical aspects, said Surry County Commissioner Eddie Harris.
“This will help business,” Harris said. “The large turn out of this dedication is indicative of the success of this program. Our location and the people are our greatest asset.”
Harris said Surry County has also committed to the Greenway Trails programs.
Wilkes County Commissioner David Gambill said he saw nothing but good coming from this program.
Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Eugene Conti, was present at the dedication and said he was very happy to be involved with it.
“This will highlight history or allow people to enjoy the scenery,” Conti said. “There is plenty to do in the Yadkin Valley. Quality of life goes hand-in-hand with economic development,” he said. “You want an area where you can raise families and have good economic opportunities.”
Conti said the Yadkin Valley reminded him of the Casentino Valley in Italy. Before the Casentino Valley wasn’t very well known, but now it is developing into a place of tourism and economic development, similar to the Yadkin Valley.
“Our program could be a prototype used across the state of the United States,” Almond said.
One of the Yadkin Valley Gateway signs is already on Highway 268. The Wayfinding website, GoYadkinValley.com, has not yet gone live but will soon.