ROANOKE BUZZ: High hopes for 2019

Published 1:53 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2019

If you have been living along the Roanoke over the past year, I don’t have to tell you that we had a wet year. Back in December, someone at a meeting I shared that we had only had four weekends without any rainfall since April of 2018. I am not sure how precise that account is for our specific region, but I do know we had many rainy weekends.

A lot of rain for the counties along the Roanoke means, less overnight stays on our camping platforms. The threat of rain doesn’t keep everybody away but it certainly impacts our numbers and the revenues that our platforms generate, not just within our system but across the communities our campers pass through.

With all the rain, revenues were down. That means less operational funds to support our Roanoke River Paddle Trail and to promote our surrounding communities. Since we already operate our trail on a bare bones budget, we are currently seeking supplemental funds to make up this deficit.

This being the case, it is critical that we maintain, and where logical grow, the investment we receive from our partners – our supporting counties, towns, businesses and members. Annual support from the communities we serve has always been the backbone of our operation. This investment makes sense since driving revenues to these communities is what we do.

Does it matter if Roanoke River Partners, Inc. (RRP) couldn’t operate to draw visitors and revenues to our region? Those who have supported our development over the past 22 years have done so because they believe it does.

Based on projections from a recent economic impact study by NC Growth, RRP attracts over $600,000 to our regional economy annually. We do that from a modest operational budget of $75,000.

With collective regional investment, RRP attracts outdoor enthusiasts from across the United States and beyond to our region. These visitors come to camp and paddle the Roanoke and connected waterways and to spend time in a place that is quiet, remote and other-worldly. They bring with them much-needed revenues into our economy.

Functioning as an environmentally-based economic development initiative for the past 20 years, RRP has leveraged regional investment to attract outside resources to our rural region. Among the resources we have garnered are: grants/financial support; on-going regional, state and national partnerships; technical assistance; and promotional products like articles, photographs and films about our region; and on-line publications.

The bottom-line here is that there is much to be gained when rural communities work together as regional partners. Together, we are a bigger “dot” on the map with more natural and cultural assets to offer. Together, we have a bigger voice and are building a stronger regional brand.

Just as Roanoke River Partners welcomes visitors to our region, we welcome supportive partners to gain benefits from a network, which is working cooperatively for the greater good of our region.

In spite of the fact that 2018 was not the year we had hoped for, we have high hopes for 2019. We look forward to working with compatible partners to positively impact our collaborating communities.

Working together is the best way we know to meet the challenges that our rural communities are facing. We are so much more formidable together.

If you, your business or organization is not already a regional partner, let’s get connected!

Carol Jones Shields is the Executive Director of Roanoke River Partners, Inc. You can contact her at (252) 798-3920 or You can learn more about Roanoke River Partners at