Huntington, West Virginia; Lake Havasu City, Arizona; and Statesboro, Georgia are the winners of a $10 million program to revitalize Rural America.
The competition, sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel launched in September 2014 to inspire revitalization and growth in small towns and rural communities across the country.
America's Best Communities challenged local leaders to bring their neighbors together to envision a stronger future and build a strategy to improve lives and livelihoods. It has served as a catalyst for positive change by awarding seed funding to help communities turn their exceptional ideas from vision to reality.
Huntington, West Virginia was the winner of the $3 million Grand Prize. Huntington is poised to become a gateway for revitalization in the Appalachian region, as it executes its Huntington Innovation Project (HIP) Plan, which aims to transform distressed neighborhoods, where the old manufacturing and coal-sector economy has declined, into hip hubs for advanced manufacturing, innovative makerspaces and entrepreneurial incubators, healthcare businesses and green community improvements.
Lake Havasu, Arizona obtained the second place with $2 million. Lake Havasu City will accelerate its Vision 20/20 plan, which focuses on five pillars: economic development and job creation, education and workforce talent, tourism and place development, water preservation and management, and community engagement. Combined, these strategic initiatives are designed to jumpstart economic growth.
Credit: ABC communities
The third place, with $1 million went to Statesboro, Georgia. Statesboro's revitalization plan focuses on The Blue Mile, an underdeveloped stretch of Main Street that connects its downtown to the Georgia Southern University campus. The strategy aims to reclaim the area as a safe, desirable place to live, regain its economic health and restore its historic identity.
About 350 communities entered the competition. The field was narrowed to 50 in the quarterfinals, 15 in the semifinals and down eight finalists.