SOMERSET, Ky.—The Center for Rural Development and the Brushy Fork Institute recently announced the recipients for the 2017 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Flex-E-Grants. The grants will help fund 22 different projects in Southern and Eastern Kentucky communities totaling more than $180,000.
The Center for Rural Development and the Brushy Fork Institute worked together to identify projects that align with the goals of the Flex-E Grant Program and support other regional initiatives such as Shaping Our Appalachian Region and the Kentucky Promise Zone. The grants provide a critical resource for communities to plan and implement projects that address both local and regional development efforts.
The 2017 ARC Flex-E-Grants will fund 22 projects totaling more than $180,000 in grant funds with a minimum of 20 percent matched locally. The grants were awarded in economically distressed counties, as designated by the ARC, including Carter, Clay, Cumberland, Estill, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Letcher, Magoffin, Menifee, Metcalfe, Morgan, and Whitley counties. Projects also include three efforts that involve multiple counties.
These Southern and Eastern Kentucky communities will use the grants to engage local residents in planning processes that explore strategic approaches to community and economic development, and projects that result in assets for tourism, downtown revitalization, youth development and other areas.
Grant funding amounts—and planned projects in each community—are as follows:
- Carter County —$5,000 – The Galaxy Project, Inc., will create a social enterprise development plan to identify business ventures in Carter County that can resource and sustain the local youth center’s mission-related work.
- Clay County —$5,000 – The group “Stay in Clay” will produce, stage, and perform an outdoor historical drama to be used as a tool for connecting arts and heritage tourism efforts with Trail Town marketing initiatives.
- Cumberland County —$5,000 – Cumberland County Fiscal Court will educate the general public about the benefits of strategic community philanthropy.
- Estill County —$10,000 – Estill County 21st Century will develop a strategic plan for the Estill Development Alliance (EDA), a non-profit economic development group.
- Harlan County —$6,900 – Harlan County Fiscal Court will build a professional website for the Harlan County Economic Development Authority to be used to support local development and capital investment in the community and neighboring region.
- Harlan County —$9,850 – The Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College will work with other community partners to develop a strategic plan for the utilization of two downtown buildings.
- Johnson County —$10,000 – The Route 23 Cultural Heritage Network will develop multiple products designed to complement a larger tourism initiative that will involve artisan training, product prototyping, and tourism packaging.
- Knott County —$4,300 – The Appalachian Artisan Center of Kentucky will develop a strategic plan and receive feedback from key stakeholders such as area artists, entrepreneurs, students, downtown merchants and businesses.
- Knott County —$10,000 – The Hindman Settlement School will develop a Heritage Food and Dance Trail that will use print and digital media to guide tourists to cultural heritage and local points of interest throughout Appalachian Kentucky.
- Knox County —$9,500 – Union College will establish a youth wellness program to serve Knox County youth ages 6-13. The program will focus on wellness, nutrition, and physical activity. Union College will work with other community partners to carry out the activities of the project.
- Lawrence County —$9,100 – The City of Louisa will continue its Riverwalk project and seek to highlight the historical significance of a local landmark, the site of the first needle dam built in the United States. Project includes an observation deck and an informational kiosk.
- Lee County —$3,500 – The Lee County Tourism Commission will work with local partners to develop goals that were identified in its strategic plan which includes development of recreational activities along the Kentucky River through river trail development, increased navigational signage, and improved access. The project builds on their campaign to rebrand the city as a tourism destination.
- Letcher County —$10,000 – The Hemphill Community Center will establish an annual pioneer festival in an effort to foster leadership skills and cultural/community pride of Appalachian heritage.
- Magoffin County —$10,000 – The City of Salyersville will continue the “Stage our Talent!” project which builds upon activities designed to put in place amenities to support the city’s application to become a certified Kentucky Trail Town.
- Magoffin County —$9,600 – The South Magoffin Community Activists will develop a project that will provide access to much needed health services for residents.
- Menifee County —$10,000 – The Menifee County Fiscal Court will develop a strategic marketing plan for tourism development.
- Metcalfe County —$8,550 – The Metcalfe County Cooperative Extension Service will develop a project to increase the consumption of fresh, locally grown produce among limited resource families with children ages 12 and under.
- Morgan County —$10,000 – The City of West Liberty will create and implement a strategic business marketing plan.
- Whitley County —$10,000 – The Whitley County Health Department will develop the “Let’s Get Healthy” initiative in an effort to equip residents with the skills and resources they need to effectively prevent and manage chronic disease.
- Promise Zone —$8,000 – Eastern Kentucky University will develop and launch a web and social media campaign designed to help market local assets and promote positive images of the Kentucky Promise Zone region including Bell, Clay, Harlan, Leslie, Letcher, Knox, Madison, Perry and Whitley counties.
- Regional Economic Development Council —$8,800 – Jackson County Development Association will develop a multi-county effort to serve five economically distressed Kentucky counties through the formation of a regional economic development council. Counties include Clay, Jackson, Lee, Leslie, and Owsley.
- Musical Heritage Center —$10,000 – The Pine Ridge Regional Industrial Authority will complete a feasibility study focused on repurposing the local business park as a regional performing arts center. The project involves Breathitt, Lee, Owsley, Powell, and Wolfe counties.
The 2017 Flex-E-Grant cycle concludes on Sept. 30, 2017. For more information on the Flex-E-Grant program, contact The Center at 606-677-6000 or Brushy Fork at 859-985-3858.