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ARC and USDA Announce Support for Grant Competition to Promote Agricultural Development

July 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2006—The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced their support for a grants competition program this week to promote value-added agricultural development in eight Appalachian states.

Supporting the Sustainable Community Innovation (SCI) grants competition sponsored by the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and the Southern Rural Development Center is part of ARC's overall effort to promote asset-based economic development in the Region, which also includes boosting export and trade of Appalachia's wood products; more effectively using the Region's renewable and non-renewable energy resources through ARC's energy blueprint; and creating gateway communities.

Nonprofit organizations, local governments, farm cooperatives, educational institutions, and local and regional development organizations are all eligible to apply for the grants.

Communities throughout the South have used funding from previous SCI grants for such activities as food-safety training for Kentucky farmers; business planning to help Georgia farmers start a marketing cooperative; and entrepreneurship training for farmers in Alabama.

ARC and the USDA are each contributing $100,000 to the grants competition.

"ARC is pleased to partner in this endeavor with USDA to add value to the Region's agricultural assets and increase job opportunities," stated ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope. "USDA has a proven record of success in advancing agricultural development, and, working together, we can do more to address the challenges facing the Region in the new global economy."

Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, ARC's 2006 states' co-chair, noted that "Appalachia is a region rich in natural resources and agricultural opportunities. This grants competition will serve as encouragement to utilize those assets more creatively. Both the producers and consumers of agricultural products will benefit from the results."

Organizations in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia are eligible to compete in this grants competition. Organizations in the remaining Appalachian states of Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will be eligible to participate in a similar grants competition to be announced later this summer.

The SCI call for proposals is available online at Proposals must be submitted online by November 28, 2006. Maximum awards are $50,000. Awards will be announced in early 2007.

An informational session about this grant opportunity will be held at ARC's 2006 annual conference, to be held October 11–12, 2006, in Pikeville, Kentucky.

Information about ARC's asset-based development initiative is available on the ARC Web site.