SOMERSET, Ky.—Five Southern and Eastern Kentucky communities or organizations have been awarded federal grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to advance strategic planning efforts in the region as part of the latest round of funding presented by The Center for Rural Development.
Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center, announced the grant recipients and presented $46,000 in mini-grants to the winning communities at a strategic planning and awards ceremony held Thursday, July 7, at The Center in Somerset.
Recipients include: Letcher County Tourism and Convention Commission, McCreary County Fiscal Court, Morgan County Fiscal Court, the City of Wayland, and Wayne County Fiscal Court.
Funds can be used for either the successful creation of a strategic plan or the implementation of priority community development projects identified in existing strategic plans. All projects must be completed within a six-month period.
“Many communities in Southern and Eastern Kentucky have a vision for the future, but may lack the funding in these tough economic times to carry out their plans,” Lawson said. “Thanks to ARC and The Center, these communities will receive the funding support needed to bring their plans to fruition.”
The winners represent the first round of ARC funding that will be awarded in 2011 by The Center’s Developing and Implementing Community Strategies Program.
“These grants make it possible for many small, rural communities to get started on developing a strategic plan for future economic development or implementing an existing project in that plan,” Lawson said. “Through this program, we are beginning to see entire communities transformed, and the region grow from expanded tourism and economic development opportunities.”
Grant funding amounts—and planned projects in each community—are as follows:
• Letcher County Tourism and Convention Commission—$10,000 to establish an overall branding to distinguish Whitesburg from surrounding towns and attempt to further tourism and increase tourism-based revenue.
• McCreary County Fiscal Court—$10,000 to develop a comprehensive plan for tourism development in McCreary County.
• Morgan County Fiscal Court —$10,000 to develop a tourism video for Morgan County. Morgan County Fiscal Court and Morgan County Economic Development Group will work together to develop a tourism video, featuring tourist attractions and scenic locations in Morgan County, which will be posted on the county’s website and used on social media sites.
• City of Wayland—$6,000 to develop a strategic plan. The plan will focus on tourism growth, local history, and improving health and wellness.
• Wayne County Fiscal Court —$10,000 to perform a study that details the impact and importance of Lake Cumberland on the local economy. Through this project, Wayne County hopes to identify potential tourism enhancement opportunities that will aid in growing the local economy.
Representatives of nine communities or organizations that previously received ARC mini-grant funding during the second funding cycle in 2010 also shared status updates on ongoing projects provided for in strategic plans funded by those grants. Presentations were made by City of Stanford, Lee County Fiscal Court, Letcher County Tourism and Convention Commission, McCreary County Fiscal Court, Morgan County Fiscal Court, Bath County Fiscal Court, Tri-Cities Heritage Development Corporation, Harlan County, and Rockcastle County Development Board.
Since 2005, The Center has awarded more than $300,000 in ARC mini-grant funding to 28 communities across Southern and Eastern Kentucky for strategic planning efforts.
Counties eligible to apply for ARC funding support through The Center include: Adair, Bath, Bell, Breathitt, Casey, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Estill, Floyd, Green, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Rockcastle, Russell, Wayne, Whitley, and Wolfe. Cities within those counties may also apply.