The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today invited rural communities to apply for planning assistance to develop strategies that help grow the economy and revitalize downtown neighborhoods. EPA is offering this assistance as part of Rural Advantage, a suite of federal economic development planning assistance programs for rural communities.
“Rural Advantage is helping communities reinvent themselves in ways that are good for the economy and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “We are excited to partner with communities that want to use their unique rural assets to create a brighter, healthier future.
Communities may apply for assistance through the following programs:
- Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP), which helps communities leverage local food enterprise to diversify their economy and renew their downtowns.
- Cool & Connected, which helps communities use broadband service to create walkable, connected, economically successful neighborhoods.
- Healthy Places for Healthy People, a new program that will help communities partner with health care facilities to catalyze downtown revitalization and to improve options for healthy living and economic opportunity.
Communities may apply by submitting letters of interest by Nov. 6. For more information and to submit an application, see: https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth
Under the Obama Administration, EPA and federal partners have provided rural advantage assistance to 83 communities, to date. Sixty-eight communities have been selected for assistance through Local Foods, Local Places, and 15 communities have received assistance through Cool & Connected, ten of which are in Appalachia.
Communities selected for this latest round of assistance will work with an EPA-supported team of experts, including through a two-day workshop, to develop strategies and action plans that enable them to realize their local revitalization goals. The team will include people with expertise in community development, and representatives of the federal agencies that sponsor the three programs so communities can build connections and take better advantage of federal programs and resources.
Working with federal partners, EPA will select 30 or more communities for assistance through a competitive process.
EPA’s Rural Advantage federal partners are the United States Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority and the Economic Development Administration.