Highland EDA Meets with an Introduction to ERC Fellow Landdis Hollifield

With more than 500 applications on the table for an Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) fellow to help build capacity in economically distressed areas across the U.S., the Highland County EDA was thrilled to be one of 65 host sites chosen nationwide to be matched with a fellow who holds the passion, skills, and vision to create new ways of doing economic development.


Much of the February 20 meeting of the Highland County EDA centered around introductions for the new ERC fellow appointed to Highland, Landdis Hollifield. A native of Marion, North Carolina, Hollifield said she is excited to work on a multi-faceted project that is aggressive but realistic, fueling her love of seeing small towns and regions thrive. She looks forward to meeting all of the stakeholders, refining the county’s strategic plan, and bringing new life to Highland’s ongoing economic development efforts.


Hollifield’s main focus will be the implementation of a Strategic Economic Development Plan in Highland. In collaboration with the Highland Community Development Initiative (HCDI), the project addresses the unique challenges of our rural, mountainous region in Virginia’s least populated county. The project’s importance lies in reversing the trend of a declining population and revitalizing the county’s economy. With a population of 2,200 residents, lack of public transportation or highway access, and reliance on agriculture and tourism, the strategic plan seeks greater economic diversification for Highland with six core tenets. Hollifield will be instrumental in refining and implementing the established plan, which includes revitalizing the Highland Inn, supporting small businesses, enhancing visitor experiences, and launching a marketing campaign to attract younger residents and remote workers. 


Collaborating with local partners with backing from the EDA, Hollifield will provide technical assistance and expertise, facilitate meetings, conduct outreach, develop strategies, and oversee the plan’s execution. The outcome aims for a rejuvenated Highland County with a stronger economy, more sustainable tourism, and a thriving community.


“This is honestly a privilege, actually coming here to start working,” said Hollifield. “You have a gem, and I hope you all know that. It’s a natural mecca and you have a lot of assets here that can really shine. I’m looking forward to working with all of the community partners.”


Hollifield has a personal plan that includes a “boots on the ground” strategy that will be in full effect her first 60 days. She encourages members of the community to contact her for a coffee or stroll around the town walk to express concerns and dreams for our county.

Story By


Brit Chambers

Brit Chambers is a resident of Highland County, Virginia and a news reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio. She loves living in a small town and relishes the outdoor adventures and community feeling that Highland has to offer. Brit has a background in journalism, marketing, and public relations and spends her free time reading good books, baking sourdough bread, and hiking with her family.

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