Rejuvenate. Invest. Support. Energize. Want To Be Part Of It?

An exciting opportunity to lift Unicoi County’s presence as a great place to visit and enhance the quality of life for county residents is RISE. RISE was established in 2015 with their mission to rejuvenate, invest, support, and energize their community.

Rachelle and husband, Jay, are excited about the opportunities to support the future of Unicoi County.

Rachelle and husband, Jay, are excited about the opportunities to support the future of Unicoi County

Rachelle Shurtz is the new leader of the organization. The Unicoi County native’s path to RISE began after attaining a bachelor’s in business administration, two degrees in hospitality, and a career as a pastry chef at some of the most prestigious tourist resorts and restaurants in Colorado and throughout the globe. She came home to be the culinary arts instructor at Unicoi County’s Career and Technical Education School and to be part of enhancing Unicoi County’s lifestyle and promoting businesses within the county.

Shurtz’ passion for the restaurant industry is exemplified by her instruction to the county’s students enrolled in her culinary arts classes at Unicoi County High School CTE. “I want to spark an interest in my students to have a purposeful career in the foodservice industry, as a chef or a restaurant owner who’ll return, as I did, to put their talents to work in Unicoi County. They can be future leaders, business owners, or possibly open a successful restaurant where everyone will want a reservation!”

“I love where I live. There are so many great opportunities to enhance our lives here and I have enjoyed being a part of this amazing organization whose goal is just that,” says Rachelle. “RISE, in collaboration with Unicoi County Joint Economic Development, will be hosting a first annual networking event for all businesses in Unicoi County.  We ask those businesses to join us on September 22nd at  Blue Ridge Paddling Company’s new headquarters near the Industrial Park along I-26 starting at 5pm. Our Main Street, hospitality and tourism, and manufacturing industries are growing and this will give those business leaders the chance to meet, discuss, and exchange information. ”

A vendor during a recent Tuesday farmer’s market in downtown Erwin.

A vendor during a recent Tuesday farmer’s market in downtown Erwin.

One delicious example of RISE’s current activities is the weekly farmer’s market held each Tuesday (weather permitting) from 5-8pm in the parking lot adjacent to the Unicoi County Courthouse in downtown Erwin through the last Tuesday in September. “We encourage local farmers to come down on Tuesday evenings to sell their produce as well as handmade items,” Rachelle says. Tuesday’s Farmers Market offers a Kids Club where every child gets $5 in market bucks to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables, SNAP benefits, and the Double Up Food Bucks Program. RISE has also been instrumental in other downtown festivals, parades, and activities that helped make Unicoi County a destination.

A glimpse of Rachelle’s family taking advantage of a swimming hole at Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park is a reason why Unicoi County has so much to offer young families here.

A glimpse of Rachelle’s family taking advantage of a swimming hole at Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park is a reason why Unicoi County has so much to offer young families here

“RISE is interested in supporting the outdoor industry through potential youth programs that would promote mountain biking, hiking, fishing, river sports, etc., so youth have the opportunity to take advantage of our great outdoors and the parks and recreational resources that are already available in Unicoi County. We believe that our natural resources are a great springboard to outdoor fun for residents and new businesses that can thrive here. If you would like to dream and brainstorm with us, join RISE. There’s a $25 annual cost per person. We want your ideas and energies to support our volunteer organization.”

Blue Ridge Paddling will host the September 22 networking event.

Blue Ridge Paddling will host the September 22 networking event.

If you are interested in learning more or simply follow the activities of RISE you can follow the group via Facebook and other social media sites or contact the organization by e-mail at riseerwin@gmail.com.  RISE meets every third Thursday of the month at 6:30pm. The organization is moving ahead with exciting plans and a call for anyone who would like to be part of the movement to join them.

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