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Aspire Appalachia: Collaborations in Rural Development Conference

August 2016

An Appalachian Regional Commission Conference
Hosted by the State of Tennessee

August 30–31, 2016
Millennium Centre
Johnson City, Tennessee

Rural communities are the backbone of the Appalachian Region. The people, places, and development potential in these areas are valuable assets that can help Appalachia build a robust and resilient economy. ARC's August 30-31 Aspire Appalachia conference, hosted by the state of Tennessee, explored how rural workforce development, entrepreneurship, infrastructure development, leadership, and asset development can continue making Appalachia America’s next great investment opportunity.

Conference sessions focused on ARC’s strategic plan goals, highlighting examples of investments in rural Appalachia that:
  • Support entrepreneurial and business development to strengthen rural economies;
  • Increase knowledge, skills, and health for a ready local workforce;
  • Increase access to broadband to spur economic activity in rural communities;
  • Leverage natural and cultural assets to increase local economic development potential; and
  • Build leadership capacity to advance community and economic development.
Learn more:

Conference Program
PDF: 1.6 MB

Session Videos
Videos of the conference's plenary and concurrent sessions are available on ARC's YouTube channel.

Speaker Presentations—Concurrent Sessions
Presentations given during the conference's concurrent sessions are posted here as available. This list does not include all presentations given at the conference.

  • Investing in Rural Entrepreneurship  (Watch the session video)
    Jill Van Beke, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation; and Brittany Burgess, Entrepreneurship and Outreach Manager, Launch Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee
    PDF: 1.1 MB

    Devin Stephenson, President, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Prestonsburg, Kentucky
    PDF: 2.8 MB

    Joseph Carlucci, WVSBDC Business Coach, New River Gorge Regional Development Authority and West Virginia HIVE Business Accelerator, Beckley, West Virginia
    Prezi file

  • Building Rural Infrastructure  (Watch the session video)
    Mark Patterson, General Manager/CEO, Highland Telephone Cooperative, Whitley City, Kentucky
    PDF: 900 KB

  • Leveraging Rural Communities' Cultural and Natural Assets  (Watch the session video)
    Kevin Triplett, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Nashville, Tennessee
    PDF: 4.3 MB

    Dennis Tumlin, Executive Director, Rhea Economic and Tourism Council, Inc., Dayton, Tennessee
    PDF: 3.1 MB

    Kelli Smith, Policy Analyst, Friends of Southwest Virginia, Abingdon, Virginia
    PDF: 1.7 MB