ARC, EPA, and USDA Announce Winners of 2014 Livable Communities Competition
WASHINGTON, April 17, 2014—The five Appalachian communities of Forest City, North Carolina; North Wilkesboro, North Carolina; New Albany, Mississippi; Berea, Kentucky; and Huntington, West Virginia, have been selected by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to receive technical assistance and implementation support through the 2014 Appalachian Livable Communities program, which focuses on developing local food systems as a means of revitalizing traditional downtowns and promoting economic diversification. Funded at $375,000, the program will help the selected communities improve their livability by promoting economic development, preserving rural lands, and increasing access to locally grown food.
"We are so impressed with these communities' creative ideas for revitalizing their downtowns by promoting local foods," said Joel Beauvais, associate administrator for the EPA Office of Policy. "Restoring traditional neighborhoods helps preserve rural lands and makes it easier for people to walk, bicycle, or drive shorter distances. This is good for the natural environment and good for economic growth."
ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl underscored the key role of partnerships in the Livable Communities program: "By joining together with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we are able to bring a broader range of resources and assistance to the winners selected in this competition. Their creative approaches to building the local food economy while protecting the environment will serve to enhance the quality of life for the people living in their communities for years to come."
"Building and investing in emerging economic opportunities, like robust local food systems, is a priority for USDA," said Doug O'Brien, deputy under secretary for USDA Rural Development. "Investments in local food systems are contributing to stronger rural economies and, in turn, a stronger national economy. Through our partnership with EPA and ARC, we bring the unique expertise of USDA to help rural communities create and innovative their way to a brighter economic future."
Sixty-four communities applied for assistance through the 2014 Livable Communities program. The selected communities worked with their local development districts or their local university or community college to submit their applications. The federal support will enable a team of small-town-development experts to work with each community to plan the local production and distribution of healthy foods.
The winners will receive assistance with the following projects:
- Berea, Kentucky, will convert a 1.4-acre city lot into a production and educational facility for urban agriculture.
- Forest City, North Carolina, will work to relocate the Rutherford County Farmers Market to downtown Forest City and create the regional Agriculture Innovations Center.
- New Albany, Mississippi, will develop a farmers market as part of a downtown riverfront mixed-use redevelopment with new walkways and bike paths.
- North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, will diversify its economy by relocating and expanding a farmers market in a vacant lot in the downtown area.
- Huntington, West Virginia, will receive assistance to develop a local food system focused on consumer education, increased access to nutritious foods, and economic and environmental sustainability.