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ARC Announces Eight Winners of Grant Competition for Asset-Based Economic Development

July 2005


WASHINGTON, July 27, 2005—The Appalachian Regional Commission announced that it has selected eight winners of its grant competition for asset-based economic development. The grant competition is part of ARC's regional initiative to build on existing resources—natural, cultural, structural, and leadership—to create valued products and services for sustainable economic growth.

ARC's grant competition was specifically designed to encourage communities to identify their own natural assets and liabilities and shape the corresponding economic development strategies that will generate income and create jobs. These assets begin with the people of Appalachia and range from its scenic mountains and small towns to its rivers, forests, music, and crafts. Liabilities that can be turned into opportunities include Appalachia's brownfields and abandoned coal mines.

The eight winners were selected subject to final approval of work plan and budget.

  • $40,000 to the Morgan Arts Council of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

  • $40,000 to the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Virginia

  • $50,000 to ACEnet in Athens, Ohio

  • $35,468 to the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission in Altoona, Pennsylvania

  • $40,000 to the Southeast Tennessee Development District in Chattanooga, Tennessee

  • $35,000 to Southeast Community and Technical College in Cumberland, Kentucky

  • $50,000 to the Webster County Development Council in Eupora, Mississippi

  • $27,656 to the Jubilee Project in Sneedville, Tennessee

A fact sheet describing the projects submitted by the winners is below.

ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope explained that "asset-based economic development is part of a multifaceted strategy ARC is using to help Appalachian communities diversify their local economies."

"This kind of development builds on a community's assets and transforms its liabilities, laying the groundwork for new jobs and businesses," Pope said. "These place-based entrepreneurial businesses are more sustainable because they enhance the assets themselves through things like the expanded use of rivers and mountain trails and the reuse of main-street buildings, abandoned industrial sites, and brownfields."

ARC's asset-based economic development initiative complements its support for entrepreneurship projects, which have provided over $31 million in support to more then 368 projects, resulting in the creation of over 5,000 jobs and 1,200 new businesses. This initiative has strengthened the infrastructure necessary to build an entrepreneurial economy by supporting: the development of venture capital and debt funds; the provision of technical assistance (through business incubator facilities and other strategies); and the development of entrepreneurship education and training programs for adults and youth. Asset-based activities leverage the success of these new enterprises and continue to support the Region's infrastructure for starting and growing locally owned businesses.

Fact Sheet on Winning Projects

Berkeley Springs Business Incubator. A $40,000 grant has been awarded to the Morgan Arts Council in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, to develop an arts incubator facility to provide affordable space and business technical support to entrepreneurs. The incubator will be housed in a derelict industrial structure less then two blocks from the heart of downtown. The exterior of the facility has been stabilized, and architectural plans have been developed for the renovation of 7,000 square feet of interior space for use by incubator tenants. The remaining space will be used to house arts organizations and businesses that have graduated from the incubator program. The incubator will be sustained through rental revenues and donations. Project partners include the Morgan County Commission, Travel Berkeley Springs, and numerous local corporate supporters.

The Lincoln Theatre Technology Project. A $40,000 grant has been awarded to the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Virginia, to develop a marketing Web site and install e-commerce point-of-sale software. The Lincoln Theatre is a completely renovated 500-seat historic theatre that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A series of concerts featuring old-time and bluegrass performers will be featured in the PBS-sponsored "Song of the Mountains." With grant support, a marketing Web site for the theatre will be developed, enabling visitors to purchase tickets and merchandise online. The Web site will provide links to artists and music venues regionwide. The project will be sustained by revenues and federal, state, and corporate support. Project partners include Blue Ridge Public Television.

Appalachian E-Market Partnership. A $50,000 grant has been awarded to ACEnet in Athens, Ohio, to develop an e-commerce and visitor trails Web site for artisan and food entrepreneurs in a three-county region of Appalachian Ohio. The grantee will develop and market an online e-market and partner with Hocking College to provide technical support and training to entrepreneurs. This project is anticipated to be a sustainable social enterprise, generating revenue through marketing sponsorships and sales commissions. Other project partners include the Ohio Arts Council, the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio's Appalachian Country, and Ohio University.

Altoona Trails Project. A $35,468 grant has been awarded to the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission in Altoona, Pennsylvania, to begin construction of a multi-use, non-motorized trail to serve as a biking, hiking, and cross-country ski center. The project to develop this trail will leverage the existing assets of the community and enhance the International Tour De'Toona (a pro-am bicycle race in the United States). Volunteer and professional support will be used to build the trail, and Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership will provide both space in a local business incubator and technical assistance for developing recreation-based entrepreneurial businesses. Other project partners include two local off-road bicycling associations and the Huntingdon County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Religious Heritage Trail of Southeast Tennessee. A $40,000 grant has been awarded to the Southeast Tennessee Development District of Chattanooga to develop a religious heritage tourism trail in southeast Tennessee. This project will feature the rich and diverse religious heritage of the ten-county region. Existing research has been completed on significant events, people, and developments relevant to the religious heritage of the region, and interpretive signage will be posted at 20 sites. In addition, a regional tourism Web site will be used to market the trail, and local government organizations will defray costs and provide marketing support.

The Harlan Heritage Project. A $35,000 grant has been awarded to Southeast Community and Technical College of Cumberland, Kentucky, to create and produce a play based on local stories from a three-county area in southeast Kentucky. Jo Carson, noted for her short stories and plays set in Appalachia, will write the play, which will be marketed through regional tourism organizations to attract visitors and additional revenue for local businesses. In addition, the development of the play and the use of local actors are designed to help leverage the leadership assets of the community. Through a Rockefeller Foundation–funded listening project, over 1,500 pages of stories have been gathered. Performances will be underwritten by ticket sales and additional public and private support.

Webster County Farmers' Market. A grant of up to $50,000 has been awarded to the Webster County Development Council of Eupora, Mississippi, to acquire and renovate a countywide farmers' market in a historic industrial facility. The facility is anticipated to house local artisans and food producers, and a specialty retail and small business services incubator will co-locate in the facility. The grantee, Webster County, and rental income will provide sustaining support for the facility.

Regional Artisans Gateway to Markets. A $27,656 grant has been awarded to the Jubilee Project of Sneedville, Tennessee, to create an Internet gateway for regional artists in northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and southeast Kentucky. The 13-year-old Clinch Appalachian Artisans Cooperative will expand activities from a five-county region in Tennessee, providing marketing and business technical support to artisans in the target region. Local artisans will be inventoried, a Web site will be developed and marketed, and training and technical assistance will be provided to local artisan entrepreneurs. The project will be sustained by revenues generated through membership fees, training fees, Web site development fees, advertising income, and donor support. Project partners include the Red Bird Mission, Tennessee Overhill, and Clinch Powell RC&D.

ARC Asset-Based Development Initiative