Governor's Office for Local Development
Competitive Grants Program Announced for Appalachian Communities

Press Release Date:  Friday, January 16, 2009  
Contact Information:  Cindy Lanham

FRANKFORT, Ky. (January 16, 2009) —The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), in partnership with the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, today announced a new grants competition for gateway communities that are entry points to one of Appalachia’s most beautiful natural assets: the Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area.

The $200,000 “Gems of Appalachia” grants competition will provide funding to communities to promote sustainable tourism, preserve natural resources, support locally-owned businesses, encourage outdoor recreation, and celebrate their unique identity.

The competition is part of ARC’s asset-based economic development initiative in Appalachia, which fosters partnerships between gateway communities and neighboring public land managers to develop the tourist potential of Appalachia’s most cherished landscapes while protecting their natural ecosystems. 

Governor Steve Beshear welcomed the initiative. “This is an exciting opportunity for the people of Appalachia to promote the extraordinary beauty of their land and unique, hospitable culture.  Tourism is Kentucky’s third largest industry; we always look forward to welcoming visitors to explore our abundant natural resources.”

ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne Pope said, “Appalachia’s future depends on maximizing the potential of its vast natural resources, including the more than 30 million square miles of public lands in the Region. This is an exciting new initiative that will enhance the attractiveness of the communities surrounding Big South Fork, one of the true gems of Appalachia. It will not only create jobs. Just as importantly, it will help safeguard the pristine beauty of the area.”

Congressman Hal Rogers said, “The Appalachian Regional Commission has once again demonstrated its dedication to the betterment of our region, and I am looking forward to seeing the progress of this important grant competition.  Providing opportunities for our local communities through economic development and tourism expansion grants is crucial in these challenging times.  It is no small secret that tourism plays an enormous role for both states and I am confident our local community leaders around the Big South Fork will come together to create sustainable jobs, encourage tourism, and preserve this area’s breathtaking natural beauty.”

Applicants can request funding to implement a specific project or activity related to natural or cultural heritage tourism, community planning, asset building, recreational development, or other activity that will enhance their unique identity as a gateway to the Big South Fork region.

To encourage participation in the competition, ARC will host two forums to explore strategies for developing sustainable, asset-based economic development projects. The time and place of these forums are to be announced.

Non-profit organizations, local governments, public educational institutions, and local and regional development organizations located in Kentucky’s McCreary, Wayne, and Whitley counties  or Tennessee’s Scott, Fentress, Pickett or Morgan counties are eligible to apply for the grants.

Kentucky’s ARC program is administered by the Department for Local Government (DLG).  Additional details about the grants competition are available at ARC’s website at or you may contact DLG at 1-800-346-5606. 

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