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A weekly email from the Appalachian Regional Commission
A weekly snapshot of news, announcements, and other tidbits from the Appalachian Regional Commission
ARC NEWS ROUNDUP  |  July 8, 2021  |  VOLUME 6, ISSUE 27
The Bluffs Restaurant has reopened with support from ARC!

Making Strides in Western North Carolina

This week, ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin joined North Carolina ARC State Alternate Jim McCleskey, and ARC State Program Manager Olivia Collier, to visit partners across Western North Carolina. From renovating tourism destinations, to building recovery ecosystems and supporting small manufacturers, these projects cover nearly every ARC investment priority, and work together to create economic opportunities in communities.
Natural & Cultural Assets
Built in 1949, The Bluffs Restaurant served as a beloved destination and informal visitor’s center for Alleghany County, orienting travelers to 7,000 acres of outdoor recreation at Doughton Park. It operated successfully for 60 years, but ultimately closed in 2010 when its owners retired. In 2017, a $300,000 ARC grant helped the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation renovate and reopen the restaurant. Now under the ownership of the National Parks Service, visitors and community members alike can enjoy its famous fried chicken and beautiful scenery. 

“The Bluffs Restaurant revitalization grant is characteristic of what goes into a successful ARC project,” Manchin said. “This project is indicative of preserving a key cultural and historical asset of the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway.”
Outdoor Gear Manufacturing
The production of gear for outdoor recreation is a thriving sector in North Carolina. At The Mill at Riverside, an old textile mill that's been renovated into a small manufacturing center, ARC POWER partner Mountain BizWorks is supporting several outdoor brands, including Rockgeist Bikepack USA, Alpine Towers International, and Watershed Drybags. Mountain BizWorks' new brand, Made By Mountains, seeks to strengthen coal-impacted counties by supporting outdoor entrepreneurs and helping communities better connect with local businesses and their own natural assets. 
Recovery-to-Work
In Asheville, ARC partners are helping individuals in recovery obtain employment and reenter communities. UpSkill provides community-based peer support for individuals reentering the workforce, placing special emphasis on participants who have been released from prison within the past year. Phillip Cooper, a local recovery activist, ARC partner, and Appalachian Leadership Institute fellow, has been instrumental in making connections between these programs and local employers. One recovery ecosystem partner, East Fork Pottery, trains employees in recovery to produce ceramic dishes. Their designs have been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, and more.
COVID-19 Response
When COVID-19 hit last year, ARC issued emergency grants to help partners pivot operations and respond to community needs. Among the first emergency grant recipients was The Industrial Commons in Morganton, NC. They, alongside partner Carolina Textile District, used $300,000 to help member companies like Tsuga, an outdoor gear manufacturer, quickly shift to PPE production. Through the grant, nearly 600 sewers across 60 textile and furniture companies were engaged to produce face-masks and medical grade gowns for hospitals across Appalachia and the nation. Read the full story of this investment here.
 
Infrastructure
Infrastructure developments play a key role in Appalachia’s capacity to compete economically. In Crossnore, NC, Manchin joined local officials, including Mayor Tudor Vance, to approve nearly $250,000 for the Crossnore Water and Wastewater Improvement Project. The project will construct an additional public well, serving more than 90 households, and 4 businesses that employ over 250 community members.
Broadband is another critical infrastructure need for Appalachia. In 2018, an ARC grant helped Avery County Chamber of Commerce expand internet access to unserved and underserved portions of the county. One beneficiary was Linville Falls Winery, a destination attracting tourists and locals alike. For their story, watch this video.

Appalachia Nonprofit Resource Center Offering Technical Assistance &Training

Congratulations to the Appalachia Nonprofit Resource Center (ANRC)'s first group of graduates! Representing 12 of the 13 states in the Appalachian Region, the 159 participants from 95 organizations successfully completed a multi-week course in either financial management, fundraising, or nonprofit management/operations. 

Focusing on post-pandemic sustainability, ARC will offer another round of nonprofit technical assistance this fall. Participants can request Financial Management, Fundraising, Programs and Operations, or a new course focusing on Board Development as their 10-week course. Nonprofits have the option of suggesting three to four organizations to be considered as a Cohort; however, all organizations must apply individually. The deadline for applications is August 6.

ARC Issues RFP for Education and Workforce Development Projects

ARC has issued a request for proposals from consultants to assess the extent to which ARC’s education and workforce development grants have contributed to the achievement of ARC’s strategic goals.

ARC funds approximately 500 grants a year, approximately 20% of which include investments that support educational opportunities and institutions. Education and workforce development grants support skill development and workforce training for students and adults with the aim of creating a seamless system enabling Appalachians to succeed in existing industries, expanding options for workers transitioning into different sectors, and encouraging innovation for future opportunities.

How to Apply!
Proposals should be submitted as one Word or PDF file to Regina Van Horne (rvanhorne@arc.gov), Program Evaluator Division of Research & Evaluation, by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on August 9, 2021.

Apply Today for a WORC Initiative Grant

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a third round of funding for the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) initiative for $29.2 million, with awards ranging from $150,000 to $1.5 million. Last year, 14 projects in the Appalachian region received more than $14.5 million. The goal of WORC is to improve access to jobs in high-demand occupations, as well as help communities and workers plan for, and recover from, economic transitions. Successful WORC projects draw on long-term economic growth strategies, building on bottom-up, community-led plans maximizing economic resilience and regional strengths. 

Apply for a WORC Initiative grant by 4:00 PM July 21, 2021.

$92.2M Available for Local Food Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making $92.2M+ available to local and regional food producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each grant award aims to increase local food access through direct and intermediary producer-to-consumer markets, as well as increase the resilience of local food economies.

Submit applications electronically through www.grants.gov by 11:59 PM on the due dates established in the respective Request for Applications. Visit USDA's funding announcement for more information.

Job Opportunities

Join the ARC team! We’re seeking candidates for the following positions to support our mission:
 

Appalachia In The News

Event to highlight Parkway's economic importance, Wilkes-Journal Patriot, North Wilkesboro, NC

How laid-off coal miners are reclaiming their own economyShareable

Availability, Affordability Factor Into Rural Broadband Telecommunications Network DeploymentAGL Media Group, Ashburn, VA

After generations of hauling water, a corner of Appalachia still waits for a better futureWashington Post

$87K Grant Brings New Tech to FCS, Franklin County Times, Russellville, AL

Map of the Appalachian Region

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.
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Appalachian Regional Commission
1666 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009-1068