What is Ohio’s Winding Road?
Ohio’s Winding Road is a locally-driven economic development initiative in Appalachian Ohio, specifically in the Hocking and Muskingum River Valleys. This includes Morgan, Athens, Perry, Hocking, Fairfield, Vinton, Meigs, Washington, and Muskingum counties. Through our regional brand and network, we provide unifying stories about the vibrant future of the region, where pride of place and stewardship are strong values.
Ohio’s Winding Road began as an attempt to brand the Appalachian region of Ohio in the nine counties surrounding Athens, to give them a unique sense of place and through sustainable development, turn them into destinations for people to move to or to visit. Ohio’s Winding Road initiative is guided by many principles.
We maintain a commitment to sustainability, using local talent and telling the stories that draw attention to the authentic assets of this region: its history, environment, and culture.
Going forward, the Winding Road has focused its goal on creating a collaborative network of stakeholders in the region: farmers, food makers, artists, guides, historians, museums, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, business-owners, and a huge host of locals who are dedicated to the sustainable growth of the communities along the Winding Road.
Where is Ohio’s Winding Road?
Ohio’s Winding Road, put simply, includes nine counties in Southeast Ohio, but the borders of this region are more fluid than any other. The region has been defined as including the Hocking and Muskingum River Valleys, including racoon creek watershed. Microregions, like the Little Cities of Black Diamonds microregion, have emerged to represent geographically and culturally distinct communities.
Why is Ohio’s Winding Road a “Network”?
For Ohio’s Winding Road, our collaborative network is an emerging strategy for sustainable economic development and community revitalization. A rejection of the boom and bust economies that this region has seen in the past, the network aims to provide structure to people in the region who have the desire to create or have already started businesses or experiences in the region that are in line with the sustainable growth mission of Ohio’s Winding Road. Ohio’s Winding Road does not operate as an organization or a business, or with a traditional “top-down” structure; instead, we bring together many like-minded, long-term partners, be they organizations, businesses, or individuals. Through shared governance and consent-based decision making, we focus on ways to share resources, time, and knowledge to achieve a common goal: to make Southeast Ohio a better place to live, work, and visit.
The network would ideally eliminate any duplicated efforts in the region and allow locals to help each other to grow the region with the local talent and resources that are already here. The network will also, in success, provide extra support to organizations within the network, including publicity, communication, and transportation.
How is Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area involved?
OHCHA is a very important “backbone”organization in Ohio’s Winding Road. The organization currently handles the administrative responsibilities of Ohio’s Winding Road. The small group of people working to support the network will hopefully grow with the success of this concept and the capacity of the network to support producers in the region will increase as well.
Want to support the Winding Road? Consider making a contribution to Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area.
Who else is involved in Ohio’s Winding Road?
Ohio’s Winding Road welcomes all stakeholders in the region who agree with our mission and the principles that guide it.
Our operations team is a collaborative network of creative organizations, businesses, and individuals makes Ohio’s Winding Road possible. Our Operations Team supports the network, and includes these partner organizations:
• Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet): offering professional technical assistance for producers and entrepreneurs, seed funds, branding, and workshops.
• Rural Action: sharing regional marketing, seed funds, grant support, and social enterprise.
• Ohio University: providing mutually beneficial community engaged partnerships with faculty, administrators, and students in curriculum, research, internships, and volunteerism.
• Hocking College: contributing grant support, cooperative marketing, and collaborative projects with a focus on education and training.
How can I support/join Ohio’s Winding Road?
There are many ways to support Ohio’s Winding Road effort. The simplest is just to support the businesses that follow the spirit of Ohio’s Winding Road effort. We have collected a mix of businesses and experiences available that follow the principles of the Winding Road. Check out our Creative Communities page to learn more about the communities in the region and the six sectors where stakeholders work together to solve problems and improve their communities.
Visit Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area’s website, here, to learn more about the guiding principles behind the Winding Road and the six sectors.