Image: Mark Singleton
Mark Singleton,
American Whitewater executive director

CULLOWHEE – American Whitewater, an organization that promotes paddle sports and river conservation, has relocated its national headquarters from Silver Spring, Md., to Western Carolina University, a move designed to boost whitewater activities as a growing element of Western North Carolina's recreation and tourism industry.

Representatives of the university and American Whitewater call the move a logical partnership that will allow the organization to take advantage of the resources of a university located near some of the nation's most popular whitewater rivers. Several of the nation's top paddle sports athletes are Western students, including Scott Mann and Jamie Tidmore, who earlier this year earned spots on the national whitewater slalom team, giving each a boost toward the 2008 Summer Olympics.

 “More than just a place to hang our laptops, this move is a partnership,” said American Whitewater executive director Mark Singleton, former vice president of marketing at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. “Being at Western will enable us to work with the university on joint opportunities for grant funding, allow us to partner on applied research, and provide WCU students with relevant internship opportunities for river stewardship projects.”

The organization has relocated to the office of Western's Center for Regional Development, a research and public policy center that focuses the university's intellectual capital – its faculty, staff and students – to address regional economic development needs and foster business growth. Among its functions, the center forms collaborative partnerships with other regional organizations and identifies new initiatives to contribute to the economic development of WNC.

“This partnership with American Whitewater fits perfectly with our regional strategy for the improvement of our recreation and tourism assets and on mutual research initiatives to grow that important sector. With American Whitewater's expertise in the development of outdoor recreation destinations, the organization can help us better promote and brand Western North Carolina as a place for adventure tourism,” said Paul Evans, director of the CRD.

“There also is the potential that this partnership could lead to new manufacturing operations locating in the region. The companies that make kayaks and rafts, helmets and paddles, and the special clothing that paddlers wear could be attracted to locate in Western North Carolina to be close to active paddling communities and to the American Whitewater organization,” he said.

The partnership is the type of activity envisioned for Western's recently announced Millennial Initiative, a comprehensive regional economic development strategy made possible by the acquisition of 344 acres of property adjacent to the main campus, Evans said. University officials plan to develop the property as a multiple-use neighborhood that will be home to a mix of academic buildings, research facilities, business, industry and housing.

For more information on the Center for Regional Development at Western, contact Paul Evans at (828) 227-7492, via e-mail at , or visit the Web page, . For more information about American Whitewater, contact Mark Singleton at ( 828) 293-9791, via e-mail at , or visit .

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Last modified: Thursday, August 18, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Western Carolina University