ARC Project Guidelines
Appendix A—Policy Statements
Policy for the Development of the Travel and Tourism Industry
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) recognizes the development of the travel and tourism industry as an important component of the Commission's strategy to improve the economic health of the Appalachian Region.
ARC will support activities as they relate to the travel and tourism industry in the context of an overall development strategy - such as:
- Planning and research
- Training and technical assistance
- Education and capacity building
- Marketing and promotional efforts
Infrastructure projects related to the travel and tourism industry will be reviewed using the same criteria as that used for all other economic development projects. Proposals to use ARC funds for capital investments in this sector, including construction and acquisition, are not prohibited but will be reviewed stringently. In particular, such projects must be an integral part of a strategic plan for the community and/or region and must meet the highest standards of a cost-benefit analysis as to economic outcomes.
All local and regional proposals for travel- and tourism-related funds should be discussed with the States at the earliest possible state of development.
Policy for the Use of ARC Export Funds for Trade Events
ARC funds may not be used to support travel for persons acting in the capacity of private business people.
ARC funds may be used for trade events overseas as noted below:
- Travel support for one public sector representative per ARC state
- Translation of materials to be used at the event and general translation services at the event
- Shipping materials to the event
- Exhibit space and registration fees for the event for private businesses
- Incidental services for the event
ARC funds should be used for value-added export promotion projects within the Appalachian portion of each state and should not be used to replace state funds in ongoing state projects or programs. ARC-funded activities should be part of a comprehensive marketing effort.
Policy for Residential Infrastructure Projects
The Commission will provide grants for basic residential infrastructure projects only for communities in ARC designated distressed counties except that such assistance may be provided in a transitional county upon a special showing of compelling need such as the location of the project in a distressed area of the county or as disaster relief or to address a mandate of the Federal EPA or a state health or environmental agency. Self-help projects for basic residential infrastructure may also be funded in transitional counties.
Appendix B—Regional Initiative Guidelines
Implementation of the four regional initiatives in leadership and civic development, export development, telecommunications, and entrepreneurship marks a new path for Federal-State collaboration at the Commission. The Commission has established a regional goal for each of the initiatives, and the States have developed their own strategies for achieving these goals. The States shall have maximum flexibility in crafting projects that address the initiatives in a meaningful and systemic fashion. To assure that the goals of the initiatives are met, the Commission shall assess the progress of the States' efforts.
Specific guidelines for each of these regional initiatives follow these general provisions.
Program Review and Evaluation. The Commission staff, with the cooperation and assistance of the States, has inventoried relevant past, ongoing, and nascent program efforts in each State. The reviews provided a programmatic baseline from which each State developed objectives for each of the initiatives and strategies for accomplishing them. Each Governor submitted to the Commission a statement (Strategy Statement) outlining the State's objectives and strategies.
The Executive Director continues to work with the States to ensure that their objectives and implementation strategies are supportive of the Commission's goals, and he shall use the Governors' Strategy Statements to establish benchmarks for measuring progress in the future. The Governors shall review their Strategy Statements on an annual basis and amend them as necessary.
The Commission staff, with the assistance of the States, shall prepare an annual report that gauges the progress made in each of the initiatives. The report will be presented at the Governors' Quorum meeting, and this annual review will also be an opportunity to showcase best practices and highlight successful model projects.
Project Review. A state shall include with each project submission a statement explaining how the proposed project implements the State's strategy, achieves the State's objectives, and advances the regional goals. The Commission shall use these three criteria as the primary basis for evaluating projects.
States may submit projects for any of the regional initiatives. States should document activities for the regional initiatives funded by other sources.
Project Application Requirements.
- Eligible Applicants: Community-based organizations, public and private nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, Local Development Districts (LDDs), local and state governments. Funding may not be used for sectarian purposes.
- Service Area: An applicant organization must either be located in Appalachia, or limit its proposal exclusively to the Appalachian Region. Appalachia is defined by the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, as amended to include certain counties in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and all of West Virginia.
- Proposals shall be developed in concert with directions from the ARC Alternate of the Appalachian State in which the project is located. In the case of a multistate proposal, the affected States shall decide among themselves which State will have the primary responsibility for submission of the proposal and general program administration. Multistate proposals must contain Governors' letters of endorsement from all States involved in the project.
- Interested organizations must submit an original and two copies (one copy to be retained by the state) of the proposal to the State Alternate for review.
- Proposals submitted under this initiative must include:
- an explanation of how the project conforms to the State's strategy for implementing the regional initiative, how it would further the objectives of the State, and how it advances the regional goals;
- a description of the relationship of the proposed project to other relevant efforts of organizations operating in the same service area;
- letters of support from each agency or organization participating in program implementation and affirming its financial commitment in services and/or cash;
- an explanation of how the proposed project would fill a void in current services or needed programs; and
- definition of the benchmarks to be used in evaluating the outcomes of the proposed project.
Area Development Transfers. A State may transfer funds from its area development or distressed counties allocations to supplement other distributions it receives for regional initiative projects. Funds so transferred will be subject to the requirements applicable to the regional initiatives. Funds transferred from a distressed counties allocation must be applied to projects in, or serving, an ARC designated distressed county or counties.
Energy Efficiency Construction. Amounts available in a State's Regional Initiative allocation may be applied to any ARC-assisted construction project to support elements of the project that improve its energy efficiency.
Leadership and Civic Development Project Guidelines
Each member State of the Commission may have additional guidelines and criteria that applicants must address. All applicants are advised to work closely with their State ARC office in the development of proposals.
Background and Goals. Across rural America, examples may be found of small but growing communities that are overcoming the obstacles of isolation, scarce resources, and the many other challenges to economic and social development that face nonmetropolitan areas. In nearly every case, the impetus behind these successful communities is an informed and involved public. For communities such as Tupelo, Mississippi, and Ivanhoe, Virginia, an appreciation of the importance of everyone working together, from the grass roots to the highest public- and private-sector leaders, to accomplish community goals, has been critical in achieving sustainable growth.
While no two communities follow identical development paths, the successful ones clearly demonstrate the value of teamwork to deal with their local problems. Critical to a community's ability to do this are widespread and effective leadership, broad-based community-based organizations (CBOS), and productive collaboration between CBOS and public- and private-sector leaders.
Therefore, the ARC has established as a regional goal:
The people of Appalachia will have the leadership and organizational capacity to work together for their economic and community development.
To achieve this goal, the Commission is undertaking a regional initiative on leadership and civic development. The Commission intends to focus assistance on improving the ability of Appalachian communities to learn from examples of civic commitment, and giving them the opportunity to devise their own ways of raising their capacity to work cooperatively to address local concerns.
Eligible Activities. Eligible activities include leadership and organizational development and training, technical assistance, start-up operational expenses, small-scale community development projects, and resource development and coordination activities. Specific examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Scholarships for enrollment in leadership and organizational development programs, including tuition, necessary supplies, materials, and travel.
- Customized technical assistance for leadership or organizational training, especially for applicants that have participated in recognized leadership and organizational training programs.
- Efforts by intermediaries to develop and support grassroots and self-help organizations.
- Small-scale community development projects that:
- develop leadership;
- encourage the formation of community-based groups;
- utilize self-help approaches;
- foster collaboration between community-based groups, which had previously acted independently; and/or
- foster collaboration between community-based groups and local public- and private-sector leaders.
- Assistance for resource development and coordination activities to share best practices, enhance grant-writing skills, and/or improve networking between local groups in the community and other community development assistance organizations.
- Development of a leadership, facilitation, or collaboration training program, preferably by a private nonprofit group, where there is an identified lack of such a program.
- Community-wide strategic planning activities modeled on the Initiative on Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities or other successful processes, which are based on inclusion, collaboration, and a recognition of common goals.
Internationalization of the Appalachian Economy Project Guidelines
Each member State of the Commission may have additional guidelines and criteria that applicants must address. All applicants are advised to work closely with their state ARC office in the development of proposals.
Background and Goals. One of the key strategies for the economic development of Appalachia is to stimulate export activity of the Region's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Significant benefits to the Region may be gained by increasing the number of firms involved in export trade, the number of jobs associated with export trade, and the amount of international sales of manufactured goods and services.
Therefore, the ARC has established as a regional goal:
Small and medium-sized businesses throughout Appalachia will have the commitment and capability to participate in the global market.
To achieve this goal, the ARC is undertaking a regional initiative to promote the internationalization of the Appalachian economy. The Commission intends to assist the expansion of appropriate export services and activity in the Appalachian areas of the 13 Appalachian states, to encourage states to develop strategic trade development plans, to utilize new technologies that facilitate export activity of SMEs, and to encourage public-private initiatives to provide the most cost-effective and efficient delivery of programs.
Eligible Activities. Eligible activities include those pertaining to data development, finance, technical assistance, training, and marketing. Activities should focus on increasing the number of firms exporting, expanding the number of jobs attributable to exporting, and increasing export sales.
Specific examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Development and implementation of strategic plans to encourage export trade.
- Demonstrations of new ways of delivering export assistance services.
- Creating networks of private and public service providers to deliver more efficiently training, technical assistance, and other trade services.
- Building awareness of export potential in rural business communities.
- Identification of foreign markets for Appalachian SMEs and development of services or technical assistance to benefit from new market opportunities.
- Demonstrations of new technologies that meet the needs of new-to-exporting, export-ready and potential exporters.
- Provision of startup funding to an organization that provides direct technical assistance or other services to area industries where none exists.
Telecommunications and Technology Project Guidelines
Each member State of the Commission may have additional guidelines and criteria that applicants must address. All applicants are advised to work closely with their State ARC office in the development of proposals.
Background and Goal. In November 2001, the Appalachian Regional Commission adopted the ARC Telecommunications Strategic Initiative: Information Age Appalachia Program, which contained guidelines for project activities supported by the Initiative. The ARC Program was predicated on a Regional Vision that:
Appalachia is a prosperous and vibrant region with full access to the tools of the Information Age and has the knowledge and capacity to use those tools to compete successfully in the 21st Century economy.
In March 2002, Congress added this Initiative, essentially as adopted by the Commission, to the Appalachian Regional Development Act (ARDA) as Section 203 and authorized additional appropriations to carry out the Initiative in the amount of $23 million through fiscal year 2006.
In approving the Initiative, Congress noted that, while much of the Nation is experiencing the benefits of access to technology and telecommunications, Appalachia has extremely limited access to these assets. Accordingly, Congress added Section 203 to the ARDA in order to provide funds and technical assistance to increase affordable access to advanced telecommunications services, provide education and training, assist industry groups and businesses in preparing to utilize technology, and support entrepreneurial opportunities in these areas in the Region.
These Guidelines incorporate the background discussions and guiding principles contained in the Information Age Appalachia Program approved by the Commission in 2001.
Eligible Activities. These Guidelines provide general provisions and eligibility requirements for the telecommunications and technology grant program. In general, ARC Telecommunications and Technology projects should address serious gaps found in access to a modern telecommunications and technology infrastructure, especially in distressed areas of the Appalachian region. Program activities feature both region-wide and local initiatives and are based on four broad strategies adopted by the Commission and included by Congress in the approved Initiative. Multi-use strategies are highly recommended. Each activity allows maximum flexibility for the states to determine the best approach to delivering modern telecommunication systems and other technological improvements to business, education, health, and citizen groups.
(1) ACCESS: Increase affordable access to advanced telecommunications, entrepreneurship, and management technologies or applications in the region:
Eligible activities include, but are not limited to, the following: development of local community strategic telecommunications plans including assessment of local infrastructure and demand; assistance with the aggregation of local demand to make private sector investments economically feasible; the establishment of eligible entities that encourage donated networking hardware, software and other services to facilitate connectivity to rural communities in the region; and facilitation of enhanced Internet or other telecommunications services to hard-to-reach communities (referred to as last-mile assistance).
(2) EDUCATION: Provide education and training in the use of telecommunications and technology.
In addition to access, the people of Appalachia must have the appropriate awareness, knowledge and training to fully understand and utilize the benefits of information technology for themselves and their children. Program activities include, but are not limited to the following:
- Upgrade the skills of teachers, create training opportunities for local leaders including the staffs of Local Development Districts (LDD), Industrial Development Authorities (IDA), and Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and other business organizations; increase the level of Universal Service funds in distressed counties and areas and multi-county areas; develop comprehensive technology plans; and planning initiatives related to adult education and job-related technology training; distance learning (K-12 and adult) that may include traditional technologies as well as cable TV, wireless and other technologies to enhance training opportunities; and develop Community Tele-centers that create community access points available to welfare-to-work programs, adult-oriented activities, and existing state initiatives.
(3) E-COMMERCE: Develop programs to increase the readiness of industry groups and businesses in the region to engage in electronic commerce.
To remain competitive, Appalachia's businesses must maximize their use of the Internet and electronic commerce. For example, existing and new businesses need training in how to bring the Internet into their daily work environment, how to design strategies for marketing products over the Web, and how to design plans for meeting production and shipping requirements in an Internet economy. The Initiative focuses on e-commerce readiness training for small and medium-sized enterprises to promote Internet-enabled business techniques. Program activities include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Developing an inventory and assessment of the current level of telecommunications access and use within either a geographic region or industry sector; increasing the opportunity for small- and medium-sized enterprises to engage in e-commerce by seeking discounts on software and hardware necessary to launch an e-commerce business; building on the region's sectoral strengths to ensure that e- commerce activities assist Appalachian businesses to connect with manufacturers, suppliers, buyers, and customers; promoting e-commerce readiness training to small and medium-sized enterprises to stimulate adoption of Internet-enabled business techniques.
(4) ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Support entrepreneurial opportunities for businesses in the information technology sector.
Strategies for implementing this activity include supplying the region with enhanced telecommunications equipment, assisting with strategic planning for Information Technology (IT) business development through SBDCs and IDAs, fostering indigenous software and network design companies, developing IT incubators and "Smart Parks" for new businesses that provide a modern telecommunications environment that is critical to new businesses in the region; collaborating with organizations such as the Small Business Administration (SBA), the National Business Incubator Association (NBIA), state and regional organizations that use enhanced telecommunications services to support the growth of small and medium-sized businesses; and supporting small and start-up enterprises through access to developmental venture capital and credit, managerial and technical assistance, and training.
Strategy Statement. Each Appalachian State has submitted to the Commission a strategy for the Telecommunications Regional Initiative describing the State's proposed program in telecommunications development, including objectives and strategies. Regional initiative strategies are reconsidered and revised or renewed each year in the State's Annual Strategy Statement. Future State Development plans should also reflect the importance of the Initiative to overall State Appalachian Planning. States may have additional guidelines and criteria that applicants must address. All applicants are advised to work closely with their State ARC office in the development of proposals.
In developing strategies for the regional initiative, states are encouraged to obtain input from policy makers, state and local officials, community leaders, and telecommunications and technology development practitioners from both the public and private sectors.
The Commission staff, with assistance from the States, shall determine performance measures for the initiative consistent with procedures set by the Commission for other regional initiatives and the five goals of the Strategic Plan.
Building Entrepreneurial Economies Project Guidelines
Each member State of the Commission may have additional guidelines and criteria that applicants must address. All applicants are advised to work closely with their State ARC office in the development of proposals.
Background and Goal. The Appalachian Entrepreneurship Initiative, established by the Appalachian Regional Commission in 1997, was recognized by Congress and included among the ARC statutory programs in the Appalachian Regional Development Amendments of 2002 as Section 204 of the Appalachian Regional Development Act. In establishing the Initiative, the Commission adopted a regional goal on entrepreneurship and delineated programmatic areas for eligible funding, which have now been further refined by Congress, as described in these Guidelines. Each Appalachian state has adopted its own strategies to implement the Initiative with specific objectives that provide the basis for reviewing the merits of proposed projects.
The ARC has established as a regional goal:
Appalachian communities will have the commitment and resources to assist entrepreneurs in starting and expanding local business, thus creating jobs, increasing local wealth, and strengthening local economies.
Eligible Activities. Proposals for funding under the Entrepreneurship Initiative must be supported by a demonstration that they will contribute to the achievement of the regional initiative goal. The General Provisions for ARC Regional Initiatives will apply to the Appalachian Entrepreneurship Initiative. Business establishments that are not locally owned and are part of a larger non-locally based organization, i.e. branch plants, are ineligible for assistance under this initiative.
In general, eligible activities implementing the Initiative should build awareness of, and advocate, creating entrepreneurial economies with communities and policy makers at the state and/or local level and promote the integration of the elements of an entrepreneurial system at the state or regional level.
Specific project proposals should address gaps in any or all of the four key elements of an entrepreneurial economy identified in Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 2002: entrepreneurial training and education; access to debt and equity capital; sector development strategies; and business incubator networks, as described below.
- Entrepreneurial Training and Education—to support the advancement of, and provide, entrepreneurial training and education for youths, students, and businesspersons. Education and training institutions play a key role in stimulating entrepreneurship through the introduction of entrepreneurial content into the curriculum of primary and secondary school courses. At the secondary education level, nonprofit organizations, as well as business and trade groups, can help start and assist in developing alternative educational venues, including mentoring programs. In addition, conducting hands-on activities that expose students to entrepreneurial environments permit them to explore the tasks and challenges of enterprise development. Postsecondary educational institutions also play an important role as colleges and universities can offer more advanced educational and training courses providing managerial and technical assistance and information to entrepreneurs and those who wish to start businesses.
- Access to Debt and Equity Capital—to improve access to debt and equity capital by such means as facilitating the establishment of development venture capital funds. Finding the initial start-up capital for a new business is often the most daunting hurdle for an entrepreneur to clear, particularly equity capitalization, but other hurdles rapidly confront the new business, including finding adequate working capital and credit for building up inventories. Other financing problems include finding seed capital for new technological innovation, loan packaging assistance, and long-term debt financing for newer companies or businesses that are seeking to expand. A wide range of private and public institutions play a role in servicing these financial needs, but the role of development finance institutions is particularly important for rural regions like Appalachia, as these organizations often provide both finance and technical assistance to new and expanding small businesses.
- Sector Development Strategies—to aid communities in identifying, developing, and implementing development strategies for various sectors of the economy. Specific regions of the United States have enjoyed enormous economic success by identifying and employing their distinctive competitive advantages in the market place. There are a number of factors that can contribute to such successes, including access to well-educated employees, proximity to customers, partnerships with research institutions, presence of financial systems that understand the specific needs of an industry, access to ports and other export services, as well as collaboration among area firms. By identifying strengths and weaknesses in the Appalachian Region, especially in the Region's most economically distressed counties and areas, communities can take an important step in realizing their economic potential. Private-sector participation and leadership are key ingredients in the success of this approach.
- Business Incubator Networks—to develop a working network of business incubators and to support entities that provide business incubator services. Formal and informal networks of professional and trade service providers link entrepreneurs and firms to various business, technical, educational, training, and information services. Such service provider networks can realize synergies in providing a one-stop shop for their customers, even though all the providers may not be under one roof. An entrepreneurial business incubator network can coordinate the provision of services to customers and supply specific resources including legal services and protection of intellectual property services in support of the acquisition and use of advanced technology and consultation on strategic planning, marketing and advertising. Moreover, collaboration among service providers often generates unique information resources for participants and can stimulate new types of innovations in services and new market opportunities.
The Commission also recognizes two other areas of concern for entrepreneurial development that cross cut these key elements and may be important components of ARC entrepreneurship projects:
Technical and Managerial Assistance—For a majority of entrepreneurs, the key to launching a business, as well as surviving and thriving past the first year, is the availability of technical, managerial, and financial expertise. Such business management expertise is essential for enterprise development, from early stage activities, including market feasibility studies, business planning, financial planning and packaging, to on-going marketing, accounting, procurement advice, export assistance, and management and legal capability. Such services, as well as other more specialized assistance, are available from a wide range of private- and public-sector providers, including business consultants, business incubators, colleges and universities, financial institutions, small business development centers, and economic development agencies. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the availability of these services range from fragmented at best to nearly unavailable.
Technology Transfer—Technological innovation by new and existing businesses often lies at the heart of enterprise development and brings with it a host of problems that may confound success unless they can be solved in an efficient and timely manner. The technological assistance required by businesses includes a wide range of services, such as engineering services for product development and manufacturing process design; technology transfer programs to promote commercialization of technologies from universities, public laboratories, or large firms; innovation seed grants; research and development financing; patent and licensing assistance; and technology-based incubators. This assistance is very fragmented throughout the Region and highly geographically concentrated.
Strategy Statement. Each Appalachian State has submitted to the Commission a strategy for the Entrepreneurship Regional Initiative describing the State's proposed program in entrepreneurial development, including objectives and strategies. Regional initiative strategies are reconsidered and revised or renewed each year in the State's Annual Strategy Statement. Future State Development plans should also reflect the importance of the Initiative to overall State Appalachian Planning. States may have additional guidelines and criteria that applicants must address. All applicants are advised to work closely with their State ARC office in the development of proposals.
In developing strategies for the regional initiative states are encouraged to obtain input from and participation of policy makers, state and local officials, appropriate private sector representatives, community leaders, and development practitioners.
The Commission staff, with assistance from the States, shall determine performance measures for the initiative consistent with procedures set by the Commission for the first three regional initiatives and the five goals of the Strategic Plan.
Asset-Based Development Project Guidelines
Identifying the strengths found in Appalachia, and leveraging these strengths into economic opportunity, is one way to increase revenue and create jobs. To focus the attention of the Region's public, private, and non-profit leaders on Asset-Based Development strategies, and to increase the chances of the success of these activities, ARC will undertake a broad scope of work to identify best practice, forge linkages with institutional partners, provide technical assistance to communities, and finance asset-based development efforts. ARC will support projects that demonstrate potential for generating new revenue streams and creating jobs for Appalachian communities.
Asset-based economic development is one of several possible strategies for achieving the Commission's Strategic Goals and for addressing the economic restructuring taking place across the Region. It is a strategy that complements other economic development strategies being employed throughout the Region. Asset-based development can be defined as a strategy that builds on existing resources—natural, cultural, structural and leadership—to create valued products and services that can be sustained for local benefit. This strategy involves developing the Region's assets and identifying new and creative uses for perceived liabilities in order to generate revenue and create jobs. Communities can inventory cultural, natural, structural and leadership/community resources and develop strategies that utilize strengths and transform liabilities. The key is to identify the potential within a community and maximize its impact, developing new revenue streams by turning perceived liabilities into strengths, or developing untapped natural and cultural resources into desired products and services.
Asset-based development focuses on enhancing the assets in the region. Successful strategies not only have positive economic impacts, like new jobs and businesses, but strengthen the assets themselves—be they forests, rivers, downtowns or renovated Brownfield facilities—to ensure sustained, long term impact in a community. Asset-based economic development is not a quick fix or a panacea for the Region. However, it can be part of a comprehensive solution for sustainable community and economic development.
Some examples of successful Asset-Based Development include:
Aquaculture. In 1999 the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority built a fish hatchery for the salmon-like Artic Char, using water from an abandoned section of the Mingo Logan Coal Mine in a distressed county. The mining companies donated $150,000 of in-kind contributions, matched by funds from the State of West Virginia and USDA. The hatchery was stocked with 188,000 eggs in 2000, using the market-proven Char as inventory. These facilities shipped 300,000 pounds of Char in 2003 and increased that to 400,000 pounds in 2004.
Shut-in Natural Gas Wells or Stripper Wells. Gas wells that once produced a significant amount of natural gas frequently lay dormant throughout the region. These wells don't produce natural gas at a volume sufficient to go through large scale transmission lines, but do produce enough natural gas to fuel businesses. The Conservation Fund worked to harvest the resources of four such wells in Upshur County in West Virginia as a part of a pilot project. To date, these wells are being utilized to fuel a greenhouse which is now producing vegetables and herbs, and generating revenue year round with a free energy and water supply.
Gateway Communities. The Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park are assets unique to the Appalachian Region. Communities as diverse as Asheville in North Carolina and Etowah in Tennessee have leveraged the beauty of this region, and the public spaces and parks, for their benefit. Annually, more than six million visitors make Asheville their destination of choice. Some come for the highly touted arts and crafts of the region (the oldest craft guild in the nation got its start here in 1898). Some are attracted by the eclectic downtown which boasts fine restaurants, an assortment of shopping opportunities, and Art Deco architecture. Others are attracted by the myriad of outdoor activities such as hiking in the nearby national forests, whitewater rafting, fishing, driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway, or learning about the native Cherokee. Asheville is truly the gateway to the Smokies. And in Etowah, the community has renovated a historic railway depot and abandoned rail line, and now provides tourist excursions deep into the lush mountains. Etowah is also adjacent to the Ocoee River, renown for its whitewater rafting and home to a US Forest Service managed Olympic venue for whitewater racing (which is also open to the public).
Cultural and Heritage Tourism. Berea, Kentucky has a long-established reputation as the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of the State. Its tradition began in the late 19th century when Berea College started a crafts production program to help students pay for their education. In 2003, the Kentucky Artisan Center opened to encourage visitors to learn more about the Commonwealth's crafts. The Center features local artists through retail displays of their work. Music, books, specialty food products, visual arts and crafts, and other handmade objects by Kentucky artisans are presented. In addition, the Kentucky Artisan Heritage Trails showcases interesting places, exciting events, wonderful food throughout eastern Kentucky. Over 170 businesses participate in the Trails program, and more then 70 new cultural-heritage businesses have opened in the region. And in August 2004, the winding 200 mile stretch from Galax to Clintwood was dubbed Virginia's Heritage Music Trail. Planners of "The Crooked Road" anticipate that within three years, the trail will be a nationally recognized heritage tourism destination and that within four years, the trail will generate triple the current revenues from tourism.
Brownfields. In Titusville, Pennsylvania the site of the former Cyclops (Cytemp) Steel Company was gifted to the Titusville Redevelopment Authority when the company closed in 1998. The site has been developed into a world class industrial park. One element of the redevelopment plan included improvements to a building to house a 100,000 square foot industrial business incubator that provided a common shipping and receiving area with access to cranes, forklift trucks, loading docs with different height bays and freight car loading services for rail transport.
Asset-Based Development - Eligible Activities
As we identify the advantages of our Region, four broad opportunities for development become apparent: leveraging our Cultural Assets, our Natural Assets, our Structural Assets, and our Leadership/Community Assets. Each of these assets offer unique avenues for crafting new enterprise and injecting vitality into Appalachian communities. ARC's Regional Initiative on Asset-Based Development will support strategies that leverage these assets, including, but not limited to:
- Cultural Assets. Building creative economies by capitalizing on traditional arts, culture, and heritage, supporting local entrepreneurs, and attracting visitors. These strategies include the creation of heritage trails, the development of apprenticeship programs, using web-based or traditional retail venues to market products, as well as showcasing the Region's music and narrative traditions.
- Natural Assets. Opening the beauty of the mountains and rivers by leveraging unique ecological assets and the gateway communities leading there, including white water, fishing, camping trails and rock climbing. Enhancing natural advantage by adding value to the farm by processing specialty food items, fish farming and transitioning to organic products. Getting the most from the Region's unique and productive hardwood forests by maximizing sustainable timber harvesting and value added processing.
- Structural Assets. Just as we leverage our Region's natural and cultural assets, we can also turn our community liabilities into opportunities, focusing on such strategies as Brownfield redevelopment, adaptive reuse, and downtown redevelopment. Converting overlooked and underused facilities into industrial parks, business incubators, or educational facilities have shown positive results across Appalachia. The Appalachian Development Highway System is an asset that can be leveraged for economic development as well. In West Virginia, four counties worked together to form a steering committee to select projects that could enhance the value of Corridor G. Throughout the Region, communities and businesses are integrating development and management practices to leverage what they have—historic buildings, abandoned railroads, scenic by-ways and old mines—to build and enhance economic vitality.
- Leadership/Community Assets. Successful development takes place when business, government, nonprofit organizations, and community groups mobilize resources towards a common goal. Promising local leaders and emerging civic entrepreneurs are critical assets for developing—and redeveloping—opportunities in our region. Providing tools and resources for enhancing civic entrepreneurship is often a critical first step to leveraging local assets. Community assets include institutions such as Appalachia's four-year colleges, research institutions and two-year community colleges.
Activities Not Supported by the Initiative
Asset-Based Development does not include filling gaps, addressing deficiencies, or the provision of amenities, which often occur at the expense of leveraging unique assets and community strengths. For example, support for a local symphony, ballet, or swimming pool—something that is not unique to the Region but are based in many mid-sized communities—would not well fit this Initiative, while support for indigenous community assets like the Carter Family Fold (in Virginia) or reclamation of an old industrial site such as the Cytemp Steel Co. facility in Titusville (Pennsylvania) are compelling asset-based activities.
Because ARC projects are funded with federal dollars, careful stewardship of those funds must exist. Therefore, ARC will closely scrutinize asset-based development activities to determine their eligibility for funding as a part of this Initiative. State partners are encouraged to interact with POD staff often and early in the project development process to ensure that each project has the optimum opportunity to succeed. Projects will be considered on a case by case basis.
Outcomes: Activities supported by this Regional Initiative must have economic impact—either by preparing the way for future sustainable growth through asset mapping or strategic planning, or supporting the implementation of projects that result in the direct creation of new jobs or businesses. Projects should demonstrate the potential for generating new revenue streams for Appalachian communities. Successful strategies include those that are proven or those that have a high chance for achieving the designated outcome, those that involve resources indigenous to the region, and those that have the potential to leverage additional funding from other public and private sources.
A Roadmap for Asset-Based Development in Appalachia
ARC is embarking on a comprehensive Asset-Based Development work plan for the Region. ARC and partners—including the National Endowment for the Arts, The Conservation Fund, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Southern Arts Federation, National Geographic Society, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Agriculture, and the US Forest Service—are engaged in a broad range of activity to support Asset-Based Development efforts.
ARC suggests communities employ a roadmap to strategically build on their strengths, researching and structuring initiatives to ensure success when implementing these programs. Communities may begin by mapping their assets, and engage in strategic planning to articulate options and clarify directions. Alternately, if a clear direction has been well crafted, priority activities may involve financing or marketing asset-based initiatives. Activities are eligible at any point along this development path. This roadmap for developing asset-based initiatives includes:
- Asset Mapping—identifying the unique assets of a region. This is a critical first step in building an asset-based development strategy. Visually mapping assets—be they historic structures, scenic rivers, forest lands, or artisan studios—often serves as a catalyst to engage community leaders in creatively leveraging the strengths of a community. College partners or third party vendors can be helpful in completing GIS mapping profiles.
- Strategic Planning—The provision of information and technical support to local leaders, as well as the crafting of a strategic vision, is essential to developing successful community efforts. Effective development takes place when business, government, and community groups mobilize resources towards a common goal. Convening these local leaders, with technical support from across the Region and across the nation, holds the promise for crafting asset-based initiatives that truly impact the Appalachian economy. Local leadership and emerging civic entrepreneurs are critical for developing—and redeveloping—the assets of our Region.
- Education and Training—Assisting new and aspiring entrepreneurs learn the old traditions of the Region while competing successfully in the marketplace. ARC has provided support to the Handmade Institute to form a Crafts Advisory Council and to develop a pilot apprenticeship program. This apprenticeship program, in partnership with the Region's educational institutions, will train new artisans in old traditions. In addition, the Arts Business Institute is holding a series of 'Bootcamps for Craft Entrepreneurs', with the support of ARC and NEA, to help businesses successfully market the craft and traditions of the mountains. ARC will continue its partnership with the EPA to work on Brownfield redevelopment. And, ARC's work to support youth entrepreneurship education programs will continue to encourage the development of locally-owned asset-based businesses in the Region.
- Financing—Programs designed to help finance both private sector and social enterprises are important tools to effectively leverage a communities assets. ARC will continue to work to address the capital gaps of the Region—including providing support for the formation of development venture capital funds, micro-credit loan funds, and assisting the Region's revolving loan funds to access private capital markets—is essential for the development of successful asset-based enterprises in Appalachia.
- Marketing—Activities designed to market the unique asset of the Region. Support could be targeted to branding of unique Appalachian products; development of distribution channels for value added agricultural products; and assistance for cooperative business efforts. As part of this initiative, ARC will not support marketing activities that generally promote local or regional tourism, or target single-site tourism destinations. Marketing activities will be held to a strict standard of review and performance.
A Regional Focus
ARC anticipates that these activities will catalyze a broad range of Asset-Based Development efforts throughout the Appalachian Region, leveraging state and local and private sector investment, helping to shift the strategic planning focus at the state and local levels, and sparking a range of new policy initiatives across the Region. It is anticipated that strategic ARC central office investments will stimulate significant follow-on investment on the part of ARC state offices, as evidenced by ARC's work in the area of leadership development, export trade, telecommunications, and entrepreneurship. In addition, the introduction of new development strategies is anticipated to shift the strategic planning focus at the local level as well. Local development organizations will begin to think about new directions and opportunities, crafting new strategies to address old problems. And new state policy initiatives (be they formation of equity funds, development of business incubation systems, or the modification of educational curriculum to support youth entrepreneurship programs - as resulted within the field of entrepreneurship) can provide lasting change to a state's development landscape. These Regional activities will both support the vision developed by local communities, and help ensure the success of community initiatives by creating a broad, sustainable framework for asset-based development efforts.
Links to Entrepreneurship: These Asset-Based Development activities will build on the work of the Commission's Entrepreneurship Initiative, which has 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 (through FY 2003) (www.arc.gov/entrepreneurship). The Entrepreneurship Initiative assists homegrown businesses add jobs and increase wealth in the region. 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 will both leverage the success of these new enterprises, and continue to support the Region's infrastructure for starting and growing locally owned businesses.
The Commission has convened an Advisory Committee to provide strategic direction for future ARC investments in the area Asset-Based development. The committee will also be asked to identify opportunities for leveraging additional partnership efforts. Committee members reflect a diverse background in the field of asset-based development including expertise in natural assets, cultural assets, and community / leadership assets. Committee members include representatives from local non-profit development organizations, local communities, ARC Local Development Districts, ARC state program managers, national development groups, private sector representatives, and federal agencies. ARC will staff the committee, and will reimburse committee members for costs associated with participating in these sessions.
Engaging institutional partners and national best practice organizations will be critical to the success of this Initiative. On its own, ARC could provide funding to assist specific communities, but long-term sustainable impact might not be achieved. To increase the likelihood of success, the Commission will invite key institutions to assist in conducting research, sponsoring educational conferences, the joint production of publications, the provision of mentorship and scholarship opportunities, the development of on-line resources, and the provision of direct financial support. Potential partners may include institutions, foundations, and national organizations.
ARC Project Guidelines Contents