Spencer wants to know what you think about outdoor recreation

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, May 23, 2023

SPENCER — The town wants to hear from local residents about outdoor recreation — what they’d like to see and what they would like outdoor recreation and activities to accomplish — and to that end, they are asking people to fill out an online survey.

In January of 2023, Spencer was one of 34 local governments across the state selected by the North Carolina Department of Commerce to participate in the Creating Outdoor Recreation Economies (CORE) program. The CORE program offers strategic planning and technical assistance to help communities leverage their outdoor recreation assets to bolster local economic vitality.

The CORE program is a component of the Supporting and Strengthening Resiliency in North Carolina’s Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Sectors Initiative that was awarded a $6 million U.S. Economic Development Administration State Tourism Grant.

Through CORE, communities will collaborate with local folks through a strategic planning process to identify and develop outdoor recreation assets that present economic growth opportunities. On May 11, staff from NC Commerce met with a local workgroup named by the town to begin the process of assessing local outdoor recreation assets and how they relate to the local economy. According to Spencer Town Manager Peter Franzese, the work group is made up of people from Rowan County, as “we are considering this a regional project. We hope that the plans and actions in Spencer benefit people throughout the region.”

Following the assessment process, the workgroup, town officials, and commerce staff will develop a strategic work plan focused on the Spencer outdoor recreation economy.

As part of the CORE process, town and commerce officials have created a survey to capture the opinions of people living or working in the Spencer area, around the subject of outdoor recreation and how it impacts the local economy. The information collected in the survey will help guide local and state leaders in the development of the final work plan. The public’s participation in the survey is vitally important and greatly appreciated.

The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete, and though it does ask if the person is a Spencer or Rowan County resident, it is not required.

“I encourage anyone in the area to take the survey,” said Franzese, because the information provided pertains to what people would like to see in Spencer, so the information collected is valuable whatever the source. And as noted, the information will not only help guide a plan for recreational and outdoor locations and activities, it will help guide economic development related to outdoor recreation. For instance, perhaps a shop that sells kayaks and canoes and the attending equipment is a need to be filled in the area. Or maybe there is an audience for hiking gear. Those are part of the details the town is hoping to uncover.

Click here to begin the survey. The survey will be open until Monday, June 5.