Trail Town Program Aims to Link Businesses with Hikers, Bikers
Pickels, Mary, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Hikers and bikers crossing the Great Allegheny Passage into Maryland soon may find trail town business owners offering to ship their wares, or shopkeepers installing bike rack "welcome mats."
Those were among several suggestions Trail Town Program director Cathy McCollom mentioned Thursday as she discussed the program's recent expansion into the communities of Cumberland, Frostburg and Oldtown. The project is being funded through a two-year, $100,000 Appalachian Regional Commission matching grant.
"That's almost always our first step," McCollom said, "making that connection between the community and the trail user."
The expansion involves two staffers who will divide their time between the Maryland planning department and the Trail Town Program.
An economic development initiative in communities bordering the rail trail, the Trail Town Program works with communities to better connect to the trail and capitalize on the trail user market.
An economic impact study conducted in 2007 determined the Great Allegheny Passage generated $12 million in revenue and $3 million in wages for trail towns.
The program is an initiative of The Progress Fund, a nonprofit that provides loans and technical assistance to small businesses related to tourism. …