By David Rogers. June 18, 2014. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Senator Kay Hagan’s office announced on Tuesday that the Town of Blowing Rock is to receive a $426,945 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), to construct water and wastewater infrastructure for Chestnut Ridge, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s (ARHS) new post-acute care facility breaking ground next week in Blowing Rock.
Photographic image courtesy of www.hagan.senate.gov
The significance of contributing toward the water and sewer infrastructure serving Chestnut Ridge is certainly in the EDA’s proverbial “sweet spot” when it comes to economic development and promoting commerce. Senator Hagan’s press release cites an important economic impact of Chestnut Ridge: it saves 110 jobs in Blowing Rock and creates an estimated 59 more.
Other important consequences of a successful Chestnut Ridge development:
- Chestnut Ridge keeps healthcare in Blowing Rock. The historic, but outdated Blowing Rock Hospital will be closed by ARHS, which could have chosen to put its replacement modern, post-acute care facility closer to the Boone-based Watauga Medical Center campus. Thanks to a cooperative partnership forged with town commissioners and staff, ARHS is locating its new facility in Blowing Rock.
- Chestnut Ridge has the potential to serve as an important economic development catalyst. With water and sewer infrastructure soon to be in place to serve Chestnut Ridge, an expansion of healthcare related businesses would be a natural consequence including, for example, specialists that care for the aging, a pharmacy, a primary care clinic, and a future retirement community partnership.
- Chestnut Ridge creates an opportunity for innovative, post-acute care delivery that will allow ARHS’s existing partnership with Appalachian State University’s College of Health Sciences to thrive. It will allow students a practical education — and experience — in post acute care delivery.
This grant is an important investment in Blowing Rock…
In making the announcement in Washington, D.C., Hagan made special mention of the ARHS-ASU partnership. “This grant is an important investment in Blowing Rock and will improve the quality of life for the entire community. I applaud this important partnership between ARHS and Appalachian State to enhance students’ experience and better prepare our next generation of healthcare professionals.”
The U.S. Senator first elected in 2009 and running for re-election in November added, “I am working in the Senate to make sure we continue investing in infrastructure improvements for North Carolina’s rural communities.”
Hagan, the Democratic incumbent, faces opposition in November from Republican primary winner, Thom Tillis, who currently serves as Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives and Sean Hough, the Libertarian Party candidate.
According to Hagan’s press release, the Senator sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine in July 2013, touting the benefits this investment will bring to North Carolina’s High Country, urging full consideration of ARHS’s grant application.
Blowing Rock Town Manager Scott Fogleman responded to the announcement by saying, “The Town of Blowing Rock very much appreciates the Economic Development Administration’s financial support of this project aimed at saving 110 existing jobs and providing 59 new ones while supporting post-acute care services for Blowing Rock and the surrounding Region. It is only through grant partnerships such as this that we would be able to provide this very important utility project.”
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Mayor J.B. Lawrence told Blowing Rock News, “This is great news for the post-acute care facility we will know as Chestnut Ridge and it is great news for Blowing Rock. We certainly appreciate Senator Hagan’s work on our behalf in obtaining this grant.”