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ARC and NEA Announce Winners of Grant Competition to Promote Gateway Communities

August 2008


WASHINGTON, August 7, 2008—The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) this week announced the winners of a grant competition to promote natural and cultural heritage tourism development in Appalachia's "gateway communities"—communities that border national and state parks and forests.

The competition, called the Appalachian Gateway Initiative: Natural and Cultural Heritage Tourism Development, is part of ARC's effort to promote asset-based economic development in Appalachia and include the arts in tourism development projects. ARC contributed $100,000 and the NEA contributed $30,000 to the competition.

Thirty-five proposals requesting $450,000 in grant funds were submitted by communities and organizations located in nine Appalachian states. The following were selected to receive grants:

  • Calhoun County, Alabama, a gateway to the Talledega National Forest, for training and technical support to complete a tourism assessment.
  • Lincoln Memorial University for technical assistance to coordinate a three-county tourism assessment for Claiborne County, Tennessee, Bell County, Kentucky, and Lee County, Virginia, all of which are gateways to the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park.
  • Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission's Appalachian Adventure Trail for a proposal to install directional signage to showcase recreational and heritage assets in Pike, Jackson, Vinton, Athens, and Meigs Counties in Ohio.
  • Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation for training and technical support to coordinate a planning workshop for the western highlands region of Virginia.
  • The Alliance for the Cumberlands for a plan to develop a Web site and trip itineraries for the Nature Viewing Trail, a self-guided driving tour of natural and historic sites in 21 Tennessee counties in the Cumberland Plateau.
  • The Chestnut Creek School of the Arts in Galax, Virginia, for a plan to increase tourism and preserve the region's cultural heritage by offering art, crafts, and nature classes.
  • Smyth County, Virginia, for a proposal to develop a volunteer recruitment, training, and retention program.
  • The Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association for a plan to document the foodway traditions of McMinn, Monroe, and Polk Counties and support small businesses by showcasing products for purchase.
  • The Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council for its Quilt Trail, which winds through six counties in northeast Tennessee and features 70 hand-painted murals of traditional quilt patterns on barns and other structures.

Training and technical assistance for the winning applicants will be provided by the Conservation Fund and the National Trust for Historic Preservation Heritage Tourism Program.

For additional information on the above projects or on the Appalachian Gateway Initiative, contact Molly Theobald at the Appalachian Regional Commission at (202) 884-7767 or at