U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand said the USDA has signed cooperative agreements with five organizations to support placemaking technical assistance throughout the United States, including in four Arkansas communities. Winrock International will use a $215,000 grant to help develop and implement a plan to support rural tourism opportunities in the cities of England, Lonoke, Stuttgart and Helena-West Helena.
“Through the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge, USDA is empowering rural communities to improve their quality of life and prosperity through revitalization, workforce development, entrepreneurship, broadband, housing, and tourism efforts,” said David Branscum, USDA state director. “USDA is proud to partner with Winrock International to help develop placemaking plans for these four communities over the next two years.”
“Winrock International’s roots are in rural Arkansas and we are proud to continue our legacy of rural community development,” said Winrock’s Senior Director of U.S. Programs Linsley Kinkade. “Winrock equips communities and their leaders to pursue their individual goals and achieve their unique visions. We are proud to collaborate with these communities and their leaders to support and amplify locally-driven efforts that improve economies in a sustainable and resilient way.”
USDA will provide the assistance through the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge. USDA and Winrock International will help rural communities develop actionable strategies to capitalize on local community assets and potential through the creation of quality public spaces that contribute to the community’s social, physical and economic well-being.
Through the USDA-funded Delta Communities Connecting through Placemaking and Innovation (DCCPI) project, Winrock International, in partnership with UAMS, Connected Nation, Crafton Tull, and Thrive Inc., will support local leaders to capitalize on the unique potential of their communities and address their individual and shared barriers to growth while facilitating regional collaboration to achieve shared goals.
The DCCPI project will leverage the unique cultural identity and current placemaking efforts of all four communities with innovative state initiatives focused on enhancing broadband, expanding cycling infrastructure and increasing tourism. The project has been designed by Winrock International to improve quality of life, harness technological innovation, strengthen e-connectivity and instigate rural economic growth.