Saltwater Connections Conference Jan. 25-26

Press Release

Ocracokers are invited to a free rural development conference.

Saltwater Connections invites local business owners, community leaders, local foods advocates, teachers and principals to attend its first Winter Assembly on Friday and Saturday, January 25-26, 2013, at the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching on Ocracoke.

There is no charge to attend the Assembly but advanced registration by January 20 is required.

Saltwater Connections will provide food and lodging for community members from the 21 unincorporated communities located along the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway.  The Byway starts at the North River in Down East, Carteret County and ends at Whalebone Junction in Dare County. Organizers encourage folks to attend both days.

Participants can register to attend a variety of workshops on Friday.  The workshops will focus on regional heritage/arts/eco-tourism and small business development, regional local foods opportunities, youth entrepreneurship and school partnership opportunities, and nonprofit and community development.  A panel discussion by representatives of key funding organizations for nonprofits and small businesses from across the state will be hosted on Friday afternoon.

Sessions include:

Small Businesses / Local Attractions re to Heritage and Eco-Tourism/Organizations:

* Your Scenic Byway – How to Plan and Develop the OBNSB for your business, your community, your future. 

NOTE: There will also be a Thursday session specifically for the Scenic Byway Marketing Planning.  All businesses and organizations are invited to that as well. (see notes below; you can register for this through the same registration form.  Thursday night accommodations for Down East and Hatteras folks are available also.)


  *Planning Successful Programs and Projects for your Organization and/or Small Business


  *Telling Our Story/Sharing Our Place: Protect It and They Will Come


*Connecting Our Special Places: Turning Heritage, Arts and Eco-Tourism Destinations into Trails, Itineraries and Marketing Opportunities 


*Engaging the Community: Effective Communication and Partnership Building


*Building Networks and Raising Money for Local Businesses and Nonprofits


Local Foods:


  *Who Caught This and Who Grew That? – Community Opportunities in the Local Food Economy of NC


  *Finding Our Way Back to Self-Sufficiency: Creative Ways to Meet Community Food Needs 


*A Place at the Table: Local Foods Councils, Food Policy, and Taking Action


 School Partnerships:


  *Partnering Across Water:  Exploring the Success of Maine Island Schools – Can it work on the Outer Banks?


*Regional youth programs for Island Communities: Ideas for Developing Programs/Projects in Environmental Education, Vocational Training (maritime related), Language Arts-Oral History-Heritage Projects 


*Developing Resources and Support for the Next Generation:  Youth Entrepreneurship, Vocational Training and Classroom Partnerships


On Saturday attendees will reconvene in small facilitated groups to identify regional economic development projects for the Saltwater Connections area.  Organizations, businesses, agencies, and schools seeking to be part of a regional project are asked to make plans to be represented in this initial planning discussion.

Saltwater Connections, a NC Rural Economic Development Center funded initiative, is working on Hatteras Island, Ocracoke and Down East to develop a natural and cultural resource based economic development program for the communities along the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway. 

The first phase of the initiative focused on local asset mapping, resource team visits and reports, and community projects.  Information on those projects is available at .

The Winter Assembly ushers in the second phase with a focus on regional collaboration and building on the collective resources of the 21 Byway communities.

The Winter Assembly will be the kick-off for this regional collaborative and will bring together local community members with state and regional resources, including NC Rural Center, NC Sea Grant, The Conservation Fund, NC Department of Commerce, NC Department of Cultural Resources Division of Archives and History, NC Arts Council, East Carolina University Center for Sustainable Tourism, NC’s Eastern Region, NC State University, Goodwork, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,  to lay the groundwork for collaborations that will sustain local economies by supporting small businesses and addressing community needs.

The two-day Winter Assembly will be preceded by a regional meeting of the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway Advisory Committee and its partners on Thursday, January 24.  Saltwater Connections community members and local heritage/eco-tourism businesses are invited to attend the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway Marketing Workday on Thursday, January 24 at NCCAT.  This meeting will be led by Peggy Bendel, national scenic byway marketing specialist, and will culminate in a five-year marketing plan for the Byway.

There is no charge to attend the Winter Assembly or the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway Marketing Workday, but advanced registration by January 20 is required.  The registration form is available at . Folks are asked to check the Saltwater Connections website ( for updates, including information on guest speakers and presenters.  Folks with questions about registering are asked to email or call Susan West at or 252-995-4131.

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