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ARC Grant Competition for Asset-Based Economic Development Opens

January 2005


WASHINGTON, January 19, 2005—ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will provide $250,000 in competitive grants to communities to initiate or expand asset-based economic development activities. Application information for this grant program is now available on ARC's Web site. Applications are due May 31, 2005, and grant award recipients will be announced June 30, 2005.

ARC expects to provide five to ten awards of up to $50,000 each to help communities implement asset-based development strategies. Nonprofit organizations, governmental entities, and public educational institutions located within the Appalachian Region are eligible to apply. Private organizations are not eligible to apply.

In addition, applications for strategic planning workshops will be accepted from economically distressed Appalachian communities seeking to build on their cultural and heritage tourism assets. ARC and the National Endowment for the Arts will award up to four "Share Your Heritage" workshops and provide associated technical assistance. Application information for these workshops and associated technical assistance is also available on the ARC Web site.

Appalachia enjoys an abundance of cultural, natural, and structural assets, from its scenic mountains and small towns to its rivers, forests, music, and crafts. These wide-ranging resources can play an important role in building a strong and sustainable asset-based economy, bringing jobs and prosperity to rural communities while preserving their character. The ARC asset-based development grant competition and strategic planning workshop program are designed to assist communities in leveraging local resources to revitalize their economies.

The economic development strategies submitted for grant consideration should focus on the following four categories of assets: cultural, natural, leadership/community, and structural. Each of these types of assets offers unique avenues for crafting new enterprise and injecting vitality into Appalachian communities. Development strategies that leverage these assets include:

  • Cultural Assets. Building creative economies by capitalizing on traditional arts, culture, and heritage, supporting local entrepreneurs, and attracting visitors. Strategies in this category may include creating heritage trails, developing apprenticeship programs, using Web-based or traditional retail venues to market products, and showcasing the Region's music and narrative traditions.
  • Natural Assets. Opening the beauty of the Region's mountains and rivers, and the gateway communities leading to them, by leveraging ecological assets for outdoor sports such as fishing, camping, white-water rafting, and rock climbing. Adding value to farming through specialized agricultural development, including processing specialty food items, fish farming, and organic farming. Getting the most from the Region's productive hardwood forests by maximizing sustainable timber harvesting and value-added processing.
  • 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 the Region.
  • Structural Assets. Appalachian communities can turn local 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 has shown positive results across Appalachia. Throughout the Region, communities and businesses are integrating development and management practices to leverage what they have—historic buildings, abandoned railroads, and old mines—to build and enhance economic vitality.
The Appalachian Regional Commission encourages applicants to involve public, private, and institutional partners in the development and implementation of local asset-based programs and to engage local leadership in their proposals. ARC will also extend additional consideration to proposed projects focusing on ARC-designated economically distressed counties. Casinos and other gaming activities are not eligible for funding.

ARC, in partnership with the Conservation Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts, will hold a series of technical assistance workshops in the spring of 2005 to provide technical support to communities interested in starting asset-based development initiatives. Additional information on these workshops will be available on the ARC Web site in early 2005.