SOMERSET, Ky.—Eleven 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.
U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center, announced the grant recipients and presented $89,500 in mini-grants to the winning communities at a strategic planning and awards ceremony held Friday, Nov. 5, at The Center in Somerset.
Recipients include: Bell County Chamber of Commerce, City of Stanford, Floyd County Fiscal Court, Knott County Fiscal Court, Lee County Fiscal Court, Letcher County Convention and Tourism Commission, McCreary County Fiscal Court, Morgan County Fiscal Court, Bath County Fiscal Court, Tri-Cities Heritage Development Corporation, and Rockcastle County Development Board.
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.
“Good planning and partnerships are vital to making our region competitive,” said Congressman Rogers. “In talking with local government leaders each year, I hear about great visions and strategies that could benefit our rural communities. Thanks to the ARC and The Center for Rural Development, those communities can receive the jump-start funding they need to plan their work and work their plan.”
The winners represent the second and final round of ARC funding that will be awarded this calendar year by The Center’s Developing and Implementing Community Strategies Program. Earlier this year, The Center presented $54,800 in ARC funding support to six communities or organizations for a total of $144,300 in ARC mini-grants awarded in 2010 for strategic planning efforts.
“These grants give elected officials and community leaders the ability to develop and further their plans and strategies that will bring economic development and growth to our region,” Lawson said. “Through our Developing and Implementing Community Strategies Program, The Center is taking a leadership role in helping to change the lives of people in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”
Grant funding amounts—and planned projects in each community—are as follows:
- Bath County Fiscal Court—$5,000 to create a comprehensive community strategic plan. Gateway Area Development District will provide project administrative services.
- Bell County Chamber of Commerce —$10,000 to develop a comprehensive plan for future economic growth in Bell County. During Phase III of this process, Bell County plans to hold a summit, which will focus on moving from the visioning phase to the action phase. Long-term planning and sustainability also will be addressed at the session.
- Floyd County Fiscal Court—$10,000 to develop a recreational master planning project that will result in the coordinated development of properties across Floyd County. Anticipated plans include trails for biking, hiking, ATV, and horseback riding. Additional recreational facilities also will include a community park built on land donated by a local coal company. In addition, a community center with recreational amenities will be incorporated into the proposed recreational planning project.
- Knott County Fiscal Court—$8,000 to recast the vision for the Kentucky School of Craft, a Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC) program. In this project, members of the National Advisory Council will be brought back together for a weekend session to review the original plans for Kentucky School of Craft and make recommendations for the present and future.
- Lee County Fiscal Court —$5,000 to provide training for elected county and city officials.
- Letcher County Convention and Tourism Commission —$10,000 to develop a project that includes the collection, planning, and digitization for mobile marketing-based tourism. In this project, a script will be drafted for Letcher County’s first mobile phone tour, the Letcher County Coal Heritage Trail. The collection of materials will be used for cell phone tours, websites, advertising, and marketing.
- McCreary County Fiscal Court—$10,000 to develop a plan for historic Stearns revitalization project. McCreary County will focus on hospitality and adventure tourism. The plan will be a roadmap as to the proposed course of action that needs to be taken to ensure that historic Stearns becomes a tourist destination.
- Morgan County Fiscal Court —$10,000 to develop a tourism marketing plan and create a digital tourism map to be linked to the Morgan County website. The marketing plan will be a roadmap to determine future tourism plans and how to meet the goals and objectives needed to enhance public awareness of tourism opportunities in Morgan County.
- Rockcastle County Development Board —$4,500 to develop a website with a focus on local tourism. The City of Livingston will develop a website and also design and purchase two interpretive signs. The first sign will display the history of Livingston and the second sign will tell the story about the Wilderness Road crossing the Rockcastle River.
- City of Stanford—$9,000 to develop a plan to join Lincoln County with neighboring Garrard County to better serve the communities through shared resources and programming in the arts.
- Tri-Cities Heritage Development Corporation—$8,000 to implement portions of their strategic plan. Under this plan, Tri-Cities Heritage Development Corporation (representing the cities of Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch in Harlan County) will continue to develop and publish free web pages for local businesses, create a community business guide, push a “buy local” campaign in the Tri-City area, and conduct community meetings to evaluate progress.
Representatives of six communities or organizations that previously received ARC mini-grant funding earlier this year also shared status updates on ongoing projects provided for in strategic plans funded by those grants. Presentations were made by Tri-Cities Heritage Development Corporation, Letcher County Convention and Tourism Commission, City of Prestonsburg, Wayne County Fiscal Court, City of Stanford, and Harlan County Fiscal Court.
Since 2005, The Center has awarded $264,000 in ARC mini-grant funding to 23 communities across Southern and Eastern Kentucky, paving the way for them to move forward on strategic planning efforts for community development projects.
Counties eligible to apply for ARC funding support through The Center include: Bath, Bell, Breathitt, Casey, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Estill, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary, Menifee, Monroe, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Rockcastle, Russell, Wayne, Whitley, and Wolfe. Cities within those counties may also apply.