Wise County

Recreational trail brings business to southwest Virginia

WISE COUNTY, Va. - The Spearhead Trails System, designed for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), opened up less than a year ago in St. Paul, and it's bringing business in  town.

"By spring, we'll have about five to dix new businesses, and about $600,000 in private investment, in a town of 1,000 people. That's all in six months from this trail system," says Chuck Reidhammer, Executive Director of the Spearhead Trails.

Many people say they're happy to have such an experience right in their own backyards. "We can leave the house and be here in 20 minutes and be on the trail riding and others places, you have to drive two or three hours away. We're tickled to death to have something like this here," says David Holbrook. He and his wife, Teresa, have visited the trails four times just this year.

This new trail can mean new business. It has some local business owners looking for new opportunities. "From what I'm seeing, our tourism season is going to be 11 months because these ATV riders, they're hardcore," says business owner Greg Bailey.

Spearhead Trails Executive Director Chuck Reidhammer says although the trails are fun, the economic impact is also important. "Prior to Spearhead Trails opening up, there was really no place to ride in Virginia. All of our riders were going out of state, most of them were going to West Virginia. Now they're taking their ATVs and their money and spending it here. Half of our riders now are from Virginia, so what we're doing now is recapturing that revenue and putting it into the hand of our business people," says Reidhammer.

He tells us there are plans for more trails in southwest Virginia. "Every time we're going to build a trail system, we're always going to build near a small town because we create what are called community connectors. It's connecting the trail system to the town," he said.

Plans are in the works to expand the ATV trails to places like Dickenson, Lee, Tazewell, and Buchanan counties.

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