The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Appalachian Regional Commission announced Wednesday the City of Erwin, Tn. is one of 10 communities in six states selected to participate in the Cool and Connected planning assistance program, an initiative to help people use broadband service for downtown revitalization and economic development.
“Cool and Connected will help create vibrant, thriving places to live, work, and play,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
“We’re excited to be working with these local leaders and use broadband service as a creative strategy to improve the environment and public health in Appalachian communities.”
"Through Cool and Connected, partner communities will receive direct technical assistance from a team of experts to develop strategies and an action plan for using expected or existing broadband service to create connected, economically vibrant main streets and small-town neighborhoods. By combining broadband service with other local assets, such as cultural and recreational amenities, communities can attract and retain investment and people, revitalize downtowns and diversify local economies. Cool and Connected also protects the environment by encouraging the reuse of existing infrastructure and by improving walkability. For example, strategies that help communities reinvest in established areas can help preserve open spaces and farmlands and protect air and water quality," officials said.
The program will provide the city and Erwin Utilities with assistance developing a comprehensive marketing plan for their downtown broadband connection, with the goal of attracting young professionals, visitors, and investors.
EPA support for Cool and Connected is provided through the Office of Sustainable Communities, which "helps communities develop in ways that protect public health and the natural environment by creating walkable, livable, economically vibrant communities, and supporting reinvestment in existing neighborhoods."
USDA support is provided by the Rural Utilities Service, which "provides funding for critical infrastructure including electricity generation and transmission, water and waste water facilities and telecommunications for rural America."
The Appalachian Regional Commission support is through the Obama Administration’s Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization initiative (POWER), a multi-agency effort to invest federal resources in communities and regions that have relied on the coal industry and are impacted by the changing energy landscape.
For more information on Cool and Connected: https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/cool-connected
For information on EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities: https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth
For more information on the Appalachian Resources Commission: http://www.arc.gov
For information on USDA Rural Utilities Service: http://www.rd.usda.gov/about-rd/agencies/rural-utilities-service
For more information on the POWER initiative: https://www.eda.gov/power/files/2016/funds-announcement.pdf