2013 Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference

U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner, State Senator Charles W. Carrico, and Delegate Terry Kilgore invite you to join them at the Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference in Abingdon, VA. The conference will showcase Southwest Virginia’s craft and traditional music’s successful impact on tourism and the region’s economy. Presentations and sessions will also illustrate how the region’s outdoor recreation and natural assets will serve as the next stepping stone for Southwest Virginia’s growing creative economy. The enhanced quality of life will attract new 21st century businesses to the area and bring more jobs to the region.

Register Online or download form

Our Sponsors

Thank you to our generous sponsors!





Conference Info

Join us for two days of celebrating Southwest Virginia’s Creative Economy. You will meet and hear from people who are participating in this regional initiative.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway, Abingdon Virginia

11:30 am

Registration Opens

1:00 pm

Opening Plenary

Celebrating the Past: Looking to the Future of Southwest Virginia

The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail
Jack Hinshelwood

`Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network
Diana Blackburn

Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway
Lu Ellsworth

Appalachian Spring
Todd Christensen

Regional Branding
Ben Muldrow

Data Collection & Evaluation
Jack Morgan

Main Streets to Mountains: Supporting the Creative Economy

Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development
Bill Shelton

Virginia Tourism Corporation
Rita McClenny

Virginian Commission for the Arts
Foster Billingsley

Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation

5:00 pm

Gallery Social

5:30 pm

Networking Reception – SWVA Wines and Cocktails, Heavy Hors d’oeuvres featuring local foods.
Music from The Crooked Road:  Wayne Henderson, Gerald Anderson, Jimmy Edmonds, and Spencer Strickland

7:00 pm

Taste of Town – Dine Around
Explore the Abingdon Area’s best local restaurants.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Abingdon Virginia

8:00 am

Registration Opens

Breakfast Buffet, Morning Plenary
Music from The Crooked Road:  Dale Jett and Hello Stranger

Earl F. Gohl, Federal Co-Chair, Appalachian Regional Commission

U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith

Morning Breakout Sessions:

Perspectives on the Past

“Using the Humanities to Understand Southwest Virginia”
Dr. Robert Vaughan, President, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

“The Craft Legacy of SWVA: A Foundation for the Future”
Betsy K. White, Author, `Round the Mountain Board of Directors

“Connecting People with the Past: The Wilderness Road State Park”
Bob McConnell, President, Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Interpretive Center Board

Transforming Our Downtowns into Centers of Commerce, Culture & Recreation

Believe in Bristol | City of Bristol, VA/TN
Christina Blevins, Executive Director

City of Waynesboro
Katie McElroy, Tourism Director

The Barter Theatre
Richard Rose, Producing Artistic Director


City of Galax: Building Upon Our Creative Heritage & Musical Culture
Ray Kohl, Tourism Director of Galax, VA

Nelson County, VA: The Nelson 151 Story | Wine, Beer, Arts & The Great Outdoors
Tim Padalino, Director of Planning & Zoning of Lovingston, VA

Northeast Georgia Mountains: Developing Northeast Georgia’s Agri-Tourism Economies
Cheryl Smith, Regional Toursim Representative of Gainesville, GA

11:30 am

Keynote Luncheon

Dr. Stuart Rosenfeld
Principal & Founder, Regional Technology Strategies, Inc.
The Creative Economy as an economic and cultural engine.

Mark R. Warner
U.S. Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia

1:30 pm

Afternoon Breakout Sessions:

Educational innovation and the Creative Economy

“Community Prosperity in Appalachia: Myth or Reality?”
Dr. Suzanne Moomaw, Associate Professor of Urban & Environmental Planning, The University of Virginia

“Sustaining Traditional Crafts and Music: A Forty Year Journey”
Sue Ella Boatright-Wells, Dean of Workforce Development, Mountain Empire Community College

“Preparing the Workforce for the Creative Economy”
Dr. Ron Proffitt, President, Virginia Highlands Community College

Entrepreneurial Development is Community Development

Advantage West
Emily Breedlove, Entrepreneurship Program Manager

Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority 
Ken McFadyen, Regional Director

Virginia Community Capital
Jeff Sadler, Community Impact

Local Foods
Details coming soon…

Outdoor Recreation as Economic Development

“Clinch River Valley Initiative”
Brad Kreps

“Appalachian Trail Connection to Communities”
Laura Bellville

“New River Communities, Dams, Access, and Economic Development”
George Santucci


3:15 pm

Post Conference Workshop
Entrepreneurial Challenge Communities


Rooms have been blocked booked for the night of Sept. 19 at the following area hotels. Please call the hotel you would like to book to make your reservation – don’t forget to mention you are with the SWVA Creative Economy Conference. If you have any problems booking a room at these locations, call us at 276.492.2420 or email us at conference@myswva.org.

Comfort Inn
170 Old Jonesboro Rd. | Abingdon, VA
Book by Aug. 31 - Ask for “SWVA Creative Economy Conference” rooms

Martha Washington Hotel & Spa
150 W. Main St. | Abingdon, VA
Book by Aug. 19 – Ask for “Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference” rooms

Hampton Inn - Abingdon
40 Commerce Dr. | Abingdon, VA
Book by Sept. 1 – Ask for “Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference” rooms

Quality Inn and Suites
930 E. Main St. | Abingdon, VA
276.676.9090 - Ask for Tasha
Book by Sept. 16 – Call from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. and ask for Tasha

Holiday Inn
3005 Linden Dr. | Bristol, VA
Book by Sept. 9 – Ask for “Heartwood Block” rooms

Dine Around Town

On Thursday night of the conference explore the Abingdon Area’s best local restaurants.  Don’t wait – make a reservation for you and your friends now!

The Peppermill
967 W Main St. | Abingdon, VA
276.623.0530 ‬‎‬‬
American cuisine right on Main St.

The Tavern
222 E Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Dining at the Tavern, a tradition since 1779.

Coming Soon – New Location!

Brick oven pizza, homemade pasta, risottos, fresh salads, and seasonal specials.

J.J.’s Restaurant & Sports Bar
115 Charwood Dr. | Abingdon, Virginia
“This is where people in Abingdon go for really good food.”

Alison’s Restaurant
1220 W Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Casual dinning in a unique atmosphere.

Bella’s Pizza
872 E Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
276.628.8101 ‬‎
Enjoy a casual, fun atmosphere while eating great pizzas, calzones, salads and more.

Bonefire Smokehouse BBQ
260 W Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Local BBQ with all the fixings plus live music.

Milano’s Italian Cuisine
1060 W Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
An authentic taste of Italy at your convience.

The Barter Theatre Café
127 W Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Enjoy sandwiches, hot lunches and delicious desserts in a relaxing atmosphere.

Ellis’ Soda Shoppe & Grill
217 W Main St. | | Abingdon, VA ‎
A former pharmacy that, unlike others at the time, had no soda fountain. But it has one now – and the best sandwiches, sodas and ice cream in town.

The Tuscan Italian Grill
502 Cummings St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Italian food at its best.

Rain Restaurant & Bar
283 E Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Casual fine dining.

128 Pecan
128 Pecan St SE | Abingdon, VA ‎
A small casual restaurant featuring simple, good food.

The Harvest Table Restaurant
13180 Meadowview Square | Meadowview, VA ‎
276.944.5142 ‬‎
Fine comfort dining, that is accessible and affordable with seasonal features leading the way.

Sister’s American Grill
Martha Washington Inn & Spa | 150 W Main St | Abingdon, VA
Fine dining in the historic setting of the Martha Washington Inn.


For conference questions, registration, hotels and more, contact the SWVA Cultural Heritage Foundation.

Southest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation
One Heartwood Circle | Abingdon, VA 24210