Corbin among winners of 2013 "Livable Communities" Competition

CORBIN, Ky. (WYMT) - Corbin, Kentucky is one of four Appalachian communities to win the 2013 "Livable Communities" competition.

Corbin and Whitley County will receive technical assistance and implementation support through the $250,000 Livable Communities program, to expand the Whitley County Farmers' Market.

Organizers say the funding will help improve both the local economy and access to fresh food in the region.

Representatives of the Appalachian Regional Commission, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture made the announcement Tuesday.

"We believe that local foods is an emerging market that can provide increased income and employment throughout many communities in Appalachia," said Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chair of the ARC.

The program is designed to develop local food systems as a way of revitalizing downtown communities.

"A great benefit is that those small entrepreneurs that are growing the food, processing the food, that are distributing the food are able to keep that money home right here and so that's what this grant is all about," said Doug O'Brien, Deputy Undersecretary of Rural Development with the USDA.

Right now, each of Whitley County's three farmers market locations are seasonal, but with new grant money, organizers hope a year-round facility could soon be built.

"We've got dreams, and one of those dreams include having year-round venues, having access both our farmers, to have connections with their customers," said Sandi Curd, Whitley Co. Farmers' Market chairwoman.

Another dream, Curd says, is to sell their products to area schools, restaurants and hospitals.

"This is going to have us take those visions, look at the numbers, help us to be able to develop it as a strategic plan," she said.

Plans have not been finalized, but Curd says the help from the ARC will go far toward making those dreams into a reality.

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