Fiscal Court receives ARC Flex-E-Grant to develop tourism marketing plan

By Allison Cross - For The Hazard Herald

HAZARD — The Perry County Fiscal Court was recently awarded $10,000 through the Appalachian Regional Commission Flex-E-Grant program, which is administered by The Center for Rural Development and the Brushy Fork Institute, to develop a tourism marketing plan.

The goal of the project is to develop a comprehensive tourism marketing plan to guide Perry County’s tourism development strategy over the next five years. The county will hire a marketing firm to produce a marketing plan that will include tie-ins to local business development and expansion accompanied by a timeline and cost estimates.

Public input will be solicited through two community forums. They will also target outreach directed to youth and young adults through working with area schools and colleges to solicit input via surveys.

The county will partner with the Hazard – Perry County Tourism Commission with assistance from a regional planning team that includes membership from Hazard Community and Technical College, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Kentucky River Area Development District, MACED, KY Appalachian Development Fund, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Perry County Economic Development Board, city/county school superintendents and the local judge executive.

The Center for Rural Development and the Brushy Fork Institute worked together to choose 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 2016 ARC Flex-E-Grants will fund 20 projects totaling $175,000 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 Clay, Estill, Harlan, Knott, Lawrence, Lee, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary, Metcalfe, Perry, Rockcastle, Russell, Wayne, Whitley and Wolfe counties, plus a regional project that will impact a non-profit economic development agency that services 45 counties in Appalachian Kentucky.

The grants will support focus areas such as seven projects in Promise Zone counties: Clay, Harlan, Letcher, Perry and Whitley.

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.

The 2016 Flex-E-Grant cycle concludes on Sept. 30, 2016. Look for information on future FEG funding opportunities in the Fall of this year.

Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, (KY-05), and other leaders, The Center for Rural Development is a nonprofit organization fueled by a mission to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. The Center provides innovative programs in leadership, public safety, technology, and arts and culture. The Center is committed to constantly expanding its capabilities in order to deliver a range of key services throughout Kentucky and the nation.

By Allison Cross

For The Hazard Herald

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