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ARC to Hold Forums in Kentucky and Tennessee for Gems of Appalachia Grant Competition

April 2009


[This release was originally issued April 14, 2009, and was amended April 29 due to the cancellation of the scheduled May 6 forum in Huntsville, Tennessee.]

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2009—The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will host two community forums in the Big South Fork region in advance of its "Gems of Appalachia" grant competition to be launched this summer. Forums will be held May 5 in Rugby, Tennessee, and May 7 in Stearns, Kentucky.

The Gems of Appalachia grant competition and the forums that precede it aim to help promote sustainable tourism and asset-based development in gateway communities of the Big South Fork River and Recreation Area. Residents from Tennessee's Scott, Fentress, Pickett, and Morgan Counties and from Kentucky's McCreary, Wayne, and Whitley Counties are invited to attend the forums.

"The Appalachian Region has many cultural, heritage, and natural resources that offer opportunities for tourism- and asset-based development, and we plan to design the Gems of Appalachia grant program to respond to those opportunities in the Big South Fork's gateway communities," said ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope. "We are holding the forums to help residents envision what kinds of projects they might undertake and to solicit their input about how the grant program can provide optimal assistance."

The forums will include an overview of the Gems of Appalachia grant program, case studies of successful and sustainable tourism- and asset-based development projects in the Appalachian Region, and group discussions to identify issues and opportunities in the Big South Fork region that could be funded through the Gems of Appalachia grant program.

The forums will be facilitated by Carolyn Brackett, senior program associate for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Heritage Tourism Program, and Linda Caldwell, executive director of the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association.

Forums will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; lunch will be provided. Registration is required and may be done online or by telephone at (202) 884-7767.

The Gems of Appalachia grant competition will be launched in early summer 2009. Nonprofit organizations, local governments, public education institutions, and local development organizations are eligible to apply for the grants. Projects selected for funding will be announced in August 2009.