Any economic development is going to have challenges. Here, in the county seat of Pocahontas County, we have an extra layer of challenge. At the core of everything is, for the most part, volunteers, working to move this oldest continuous settlement into a 21st century tourist destination. A settlement that is 46 miles from the nearest interstate and in a flood-plain, in a county set to celebrate 200 years of history, and is still without access to sufficient and affordable Broadband.
Earlier this year, the Marlinton Listens team conducted a survey that gauged local community members’ thoughts and opinions on what challenges needed to be addressed in Marlinton. We asked what individuals would like to see more of in town, regarding local amenities and businesses, and how they felt overall about enhancing the recreation-tourism economy.
With more than 100 respondents, the survey results showed that members of the community were largely in support of the Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center and Mon Forest Towns initiatives and their efforts to strengthen the tourism-recreation economy in the town of Marlinton.
Individuals stated that the largest challenge to overcome would be addressing the dilapidated and abandoned buildings and cleaning up the Town to make it more visually appealing to both locals and visitors.
Given the results of this survey, the Marlinton Listens Team feels an Assessment and Action Plan provided by Downstream Strategies could address the concerns that came from the survey. Those concerns will be addressed as the team continues to build upon the community’s excitement of enhancing the tourism-recreation economy through outdoor recreation and mountain biking. However, amid all the positive – remains the elephant in the room. The issue that can affect all the rest is Broadband, or lack thereof.
Though progress is slow, positive steps are being made. Seeing the need, members of the Pocahontas County Broadband Council and its partners have created a simple website to clean up collected survey data. This data will provide internet speeds that support the discussions of unserved and/or under-served areas of Broadband access. Other software tools to streamline collection of speed data may soon be available.
Following a recent interview by a Baltimore-based news crew, I knew our voices were being heard. Especially, when it was later reported that the story about Marlinton was heard on the evening news in Denver Colorado, regarding “Broadband in Rural America.” With that said…
The Pocahontas County Broadband Council serves to advocate, coordinate communication, and identify and pursue opportunities to build fast, reliable, affordable internet to every corner of the county where residents live and work. To do this, we need to know about your internet service – bad or good. Our goal is to collect data on as many businesses, residences, second home, and vacation destinations as possible in the county.
Please visit www.pocahontascountybroadband.com and take the survey.
Please take this survey on Internet data only. Turn off your cell data before you take it.