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Thirteen Southern and Eastern Kentucky projects will be moving forward with capacity-building planning and implementation projects in their communities and throughout the region.

Recipients of the latest round of grant funding include the City of Liberty; Clay County Fiscal Court; Tri-City Chamber; Jackson County Development Association; Jackson County Fiscal Court; Leadership Tri-County; Lawrence County Health Department; Hwy 7 Community Outreach; AppalRed; Gateway ADD; City of Hazard; Rowan County Fiscal Court; and the City of Corbin Recreation.

“We are working in partnership with community and governmental leaders to make our region a better place to live and raise our families,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center for Rural Development. “Each project represents an investment in our region’s future and continued economic development in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”

ARC Mini-Grant Recipients:

1. City of Liberty: City of Liberty Dam Project ($8,000)

The City of Liberty Dam Project will make use of professional services to assess the feasibility of the construction of a dam in Liberty, KY. The purpose of the project will be to improve the city’s water system infrastructure by constructing a dam to increase water capacity as well as to help citizens live and work in the local region.

2. Clay County Fiscal Court: Raw Water Supply ($10,000)

This project will provide for an engineering firm to determine the best way to obtain a raw water supply for Clay County. To begin the process, Clay County Fiscal Court plans to hire a qualified engineering firm to conduct a survey and prepare the necessary drawings and documents to begin the project.

3. Tri-City Chamber: Downtown Development & Revitalization ($10,000)

This project will provide planning and guidance to encourage business owners in the Tri-Cities of Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch to revitalize their properties to make the business more visually appealing to local citizens and tourists. The project will aid business owners in ways in which facades on properties can be improved to enhance the business and the communities.

4. Jackson County Development Association (JCDA): Jackson County digital marketing materials and GSI mapping ($7,500)

This project will invest in digital marketing materials, mapping, and delivery of marketing assets to potential visitors that will give a great first impression of Jackson County. This is the number one request from visitors who come to stay in one of the 50-plus lodgings in the county. The JCDA will hire professional services to work with local groups to develop this valuable tool to grow our tourism industries.

5. Jackson County Fiscal Court: Jackson County Lakes SummitPlex Project ($10,000)

This project will create a development plan for a newly acquired parcel of land. The planning process will include public input to identify, document, and prioritize the project features that are most important to the community.

6. Leadership Tri-County: Bridging Leadership Skills & Community Networks through Leadership Tri-County (Online) ($6,480)

This project will fund the expansion of the Leadership Tri-County website to include an online learning environment for current and future classes with educational material about the region and training on valuable leadership competencies. The project will transform the existing alumni database into an ongoing professional development platform, where alumni can complete an optional digital badge or connect with alumni. This will serve future classes and 572 existing program alumni leaders in Knox, Whitley, and Laurel counties in southeastern Kentucky.

7. Lawrence County Health Department: Health Improvement Plan: ($4,500)

The goal of the project is to develop a collaborative communication plan as outlined in the 2023-2027 Lawrence County Community Health Improvement Plan focusing on mental health, making healthy lifestyle choices, healthy eating, physical activity, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, getting regular sleep, and oral health. This includes the development of a Health Action Team website providing education and resources on our priority areas of access to healthcare and preventive services, obesity, and mental health.

8. Hwy 7 Community Outreach: Western Letcher County Tourism and Cultural Initiative ($7,500)

This project will map and create a marketing plan for currently available arts, cultural, and outdoor opportunities that already exist in Western Letcher County and then identify potential individuals and areas that are not being utilized.

9. AppalRed: Laying the Groundwork for Strategic Planning ($1,954)

This is a strategic planning project that will hire a consultant to conduct a convening of staff and board members from six offices to create an organizational values statement that will anchor and launch strategic planning. Launching the strategic planning process will increase the capacity of the only civil legal aid provider across 37 counties of Appalachian Kentucky, including 27 distressed ARC counties.

10. Gateway ADD: Gateway Regional Childcare Economic Impact Study ($10,000)

Gateway Area Development District will complete a regional Childcare Economic Impact Study for Bath, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, and Rowan counties in East Central Kentucky. Childcare has become a critical need for public and private sector employers. Based on anecdotal data, regional stakeholders and employers have observed that the lack of childcare availability is hampering the ability of individuals to work. The proposed study will include how the lack of childcare impacts the workforce and economy in the five-county region and the potential impact of expanding a model of childcare that relies on employer, employee, and taxpayer support.

11. City of Hazard: Downtown Hazard Pedestrian Safety and Beautification Project ($10,000)

The City of Hazard and its partners will complete the Downtown Hazard Pedestrian Safety and Beautification Project. This project will improve two key intersections on our Main Street to make them safer and more beautiful per Hazard’s recently completed strategic plan.

12. Rowan County Fiscal Court: Rowan County Abandoned Railroad Recreational Trail Feasibility Study ($10,000)

Rowan County Fiscal Court will conduct a Feasibility/Planning Study for a new recreational trail along an abandoned railroad between Rowan County and Morgan County. Based on the findings of the study, Rowan County Fiscal Court will be able to determine if this is a location for future recreational trail development to enhance the county’s tourism destination opportunities.

13. City of Corbin Recreation: Corbin Parks & Recreation Strategic Plan ($10,000)

The Corbin Parks & Recreation Department will develop a Master Plan as part of the city’s long-term city-wide planning project. The plan will identify the community’s needs and desires through an Open House Workshop, Staff Input Session, and Web-Based Survey. A Master Plan will be developed to represent the ideas of all who utilize the Corbin Parks System.

The Center for Rural Development administers program funds in partnership with the Kentucky Department for Local Government and the ARC.

Grants are subject to approval for up to $10,000, require a 20 percent match of total project costs, and are to be completed within a six-month timeframe. Mini-grant funds are available on a reimbursement basis only.

Since 2005, The Center’s Developing and Implementing Community Strategies Program has presented more than $1.1 million in ARC funding support to distressed communities across Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

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