Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Discover Downtown Middlesboro Executive Director Resigns After Four Years of Service

Kremer with participant at the Creative
Placemaking Bootcamp held at the
Main Street Now conference in
Milwaukee, 2016. Credit: DDM.
Middlesboro, Kentucky – Nearly four years to the day since he first arrived, Isaac Kremer announced that he will be leaving Discover Downtown Middlesboro where he served as Executive Director to assume leadership of a Main Street program in New Jersey.

During his tenure Kremer built partnerships that mobilized hundreds of volunteers and helped to attract over $500,000 for revitalization of this historic Appalachian Kentucky downtown. Funding came from a variety of sources including Federal government agencies, the Levitt Foundation in Los Angeles, the New York Community Trust in New York, and the largest and highest level of private giving in the history of the organization.

“Downtown Middlesboro has witnessed remarkable transformation and change these past four years,” Kremer said. “Discover Downtown Middlesboro has received national recognition as a leader in creative placemaking through our Levitt AMP Middlesboro Music Series, several Better Block events, and the success of our pop-up shop The Palace.”

Among the earliest, strongest, and most consistent support came from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). They provided an initial $10,000 for strategic planning through a grant administered by the Center for Rural Development in Somerset. Some goals that were identified through extensive public input were trail building, job creation and entrepreneurship, and encouraging historic preservation.

Early results came through a $100,000 Recreational Trails Program grant awarded in 2013 by the Kentucky Department for Local Government. This assisted with the first phase of a trail to connect the downtown with the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. The National Park Service joined in the effort through a technical assistance grant from the Recreational Trails Conservation Assistance program. The NPS worked with a class of landscape architecture students from the University of Kentucky and Middlesboro residents to design a citywide trail system in 2014.

Additional funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Kentucky Heritage Council through the Certified Local Government program assisted with development of a preservation plan. Many building owners proceeded with building renovations and façade improvements, aided by technical assistance from the Kentucky Heritage Council. The first tax credit project downtown in 25 years was completed by Dr. Stallworth. This has since been followed by owners of five other buildings seeking to utilize this incentive.

Before and after of the Pinnacle Building. Credit: DDM.

Better Block Middlesborough was a signature project that rallied people and resources to bring change about in a short period of time. In October 2013 over a hundred volunteers transformed a block of the downtown through low-cost citizen-led interventions. Mike Lydon with Street Plans Collaborative participated in the event and later included a photo from Middlesboro in his book Tactical Urbanism. This event was repeated in May 2014 and again in June 2016, brining further impressive changes about from pop-up shops, to pop-up parks, and public space improvements.

Middlesboro was invited to present this tactical urbanism and placemaking work at the National Main Street conference in Detroit in 2014, Atlanta in 2015, and Milwaukee in 2016. The US EPA also invited Middlesboro to present at the National Brownfields Conference in Chicago in 2015. Middlesboro was honored to be named a Great American Main Street Award Semi-Finalist in 2014 and recipient of the first-ever “One to Watch” award that same year. Other awards include winner of the Successful Communities Contest held by the Orton Family Foundation and CommunityMatters in 2013, the Kentucky Main Street Economic Restructuring Initiative Award in 2014, and Local Foods, Local Places winner in 2016.

The Makers Market was a pop-up shop opened in April 2014 to demonstrate the potential of an artisan-led economy downtown through an ARC grant administered by the Brushy Fork Institute at Berea College. Following this demonstration project The Palace was launched in the same storefront starting in December 2014. Over time this grew to become a vibrant community meeting space featuring the work of 40 Appalachian artisans available for sale. Recognizing the success of this effort, the New York Community Trust awarded $110,000 to hire a director and assistant to run an entrepreneurship training program. Partners with DDM in this “Selling to the World Initiative” include the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.

Levitt AMP Middlesboro Music Series started on a vacant gravel lot transformed through
creative placemaking. Credit: DDM.

An effort to build a small sixteen by sixteen foot wooden stage during the first Better Block event came to full fruition through competing in and winning the Levitt AMP [Your City] contest in 2015. Middlesboro was among 10 cities in the US awarded $25,000 to transform a neglected public space through creative placemaking, and to hold a series of ten concerts there. Unused farmers’ market sheds were transformed in to a stage, sod laid down over the gravel, and a lively green space for live music was born. Middlesboro competed and won again in 2016. An impressive steel canopy was donated by a local company and put up over the stage. The series has been well received and local leaders are already talking about competing for a third year of concerts.

Middlesboro was selected as a Local Foods, Local Places grant recipient in 2016. The US EPA, ARC, and numerous other agencies assisted with a community workshop and development of a plan to put local foods at the center of revitalization efforts. Projects that were selected for funding included development of a demonstration garden on the Levitt lot to show the possibility of developing local food, and creation of a marketing plan to promote local food, trails, and the downtown. A marketing deal with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture provided support for the successful Wing Fling competition and the Levitt concerts, through encouraging use of Kentucky Proud products supporting Kentucky farmers.

Middlesboro benefited from numerous training opportunities. Sixteen residents and local leaders attended the Brushy Fork Annual Institute since 2013 and received training in community philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, and effective communications. A team was selected to participate in the Appalachian Gateway Communities Initiative in Abingdon in 2014, to learn about asset-based approaches to revitalization. Participation in the Appalachian Rural Development Philanthropy Initiative gave guidance on community philanthropy. One other recent opportunity was participation in the Kentucky Rural Urban Exchange and the Kentucky Institute on Economic Development.

“In reflecting on my four years of service and the broader history of Middlesboro, it has been my honor to elevate the profile of Middlesboro nationally and win support for revitalization efforts. As DDM prepares to celebrate the ten year anniversary of its incorporation on October 13 this year, I hope that people recognize the gains made over the past decade and redouble their commitment to revitalization of this naturally beautiful and historically significant town and region. Middlesboro is one of the bright lights in Appalachia and truly America’s next great investment opportunity,” Kremer said.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Free Concerts Return to Downtown Middlesboro Every Saturday Starting July 30, 2016

The Levitt AMP Middlesboro Music Series returns for the second year to the Levitt AMP Middlesboro Pop-Up Park—downtown Middlesboro’s increasingly vibrant green space that was formerly a vacant, gravel lot—to augment the city’s community-driven revitalization of its economically challenged downtown, encouraging further community investment in the arts and promoting Middlesboro as a cultural destination.

The Levitt AMP Middlesboro Music Series is supported in part by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, a private family foundation that empowers towns and cities across America to transform neglected public spaces into thriving destinations through the power of free, live music. In 2016, more than 450 free Levitt concerts will take place in 21 towns and cities, all featuring a rich array of music genres and high caliber talent. Learn more at

So bring a lawn chair, a picnic dinner, and enjoy an evening of free live music among friends and neighbors at the Levitt AMP Middlesboro Park, just off of Fountain Square in downtown Middlesboro. Opening acts start at 6pm and headliners go on at 7pm. See you at the show!



Step back in time this summer with East Coast quartet Roosevelt Dime, that celebrates music of a bygone era with a toe-tapping fusion of acoustic Americana, folk, rock and rhythm and blues.



As its name implies, Circa Blue is all about bluegrass, fusing the old and the new through an irresistible combination of tight vocal harmonies, clean instrumentation and creative arrangements.



Bill Lloyd—songwriter, guitarist, producer, musicologist and Nashville legend—is best known as one half of the ‘80s country-rock duo Foster & Lloyd.



“Mississippi Blues Diva” JJ Thames is a force of nature on stage, bending her magnificent, bluesy voice to a mix of R&B, funk, Motown, ska, reggae and soul.



Warm your heart this summer with Jeni Carr, an acclaimed country-rock singer/songwriter based in Nashville, Tenn.



Tennessee-based singer/songwriter Elam McKnight and his band draw upon the region’s blues, rock and country roots.



The husband and wife team of indie pop band Goodnight Moonshine puts real-life stories into song.




Award-winning bluegrass and country guitarist Jim Hurst brings his distinctive picking style and expressive voice to the Levitt AMP Middlesboro stage.



Kristen Brassel mines her Southern roots for a honeyed blend of country, roots and pop.



Harmonica virtuoso and blues singer Grady Champion captivates audiences with his energetic live performances.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

AMP It Up Volunteer Event - July 27, 2016 - Downtown Middlesboro

Volunteers are at the heart of our work in downtown Middlesboro.

On July 27, volunteers from the tri-state area and beyond will gather to get Middlesboro ready for exciting summer events. Starting at 4 p.m. volunteers will gather in the Levitt AMP lot, in between the Public Library and Cumberland Avenue. Volunteers will help get the lot ready for the upcoming FREE concert series!  Others will build raised garden beds as part of the USDA’s Local Foods, Local Places Program. Please register by calling (606) 499-7894, e-mailing or by going to our Facebook page,

The Levitt AMP Concert Series is coming back for a second year. Starting July 30 and running for 10 weeks there will be free concerts, events and a chance for everyone to come together for family-friendly fun. Volunteers will get the space ready, help prepare for food vendors and take ownership of the site.

We will be grilling out to feed our hungry helpers! Chips and drinks will be available also. Our urban garden has some healthy vegetables ready to eat on the side!

“This is an opportunity for community members to really come together to make Middlesboro work for them,” said Isaac Kremer, Executive Director of Discover Downtown Middlesboro. “We have the chance to transform the Historic Downtown into a place for everyone to enjoy year-round.”
Volunteers are asked to meet at 4 p.m. at the Levitt AMP lot. There is plenty of parking in the City Parking lot behind the Palace at 2008 Cumberland Avenue.

About Discover Downtown Middlesboro

Discover Downtown Middlesboro (DDM) is a non-profit organization that encourages citizen participation in the revitalization of Cumberland Avenue between 10th and 24th Street and several mixed-use walkable blocks to the north and south. We seek to improve the physical appearance of the downtown while maintaining its historic integrity; to retain existing businesses and to attract new ones; and to make downtown Middlesborough the center of the economic, civic, and social life of the Tri-State area. For more information, go to 

Contact: Jackie Risner
AmeriCorps VISTA
Discover Downtown Middlesboro
(606) 499-7894

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Partners for Education to Lead Regional Creative Asset Mapping Project – Volunteers and Citizen Input Needed

Partners for Education at Berea College (PFE) is launching an extensive creative asset mapping project across southeastern Kentucky. PFE aims to provide training and support to teams from each of eight Kentucky Promise Zone counties (Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry and Whitley) to map and promote features of the region’s culture and heritage.

Between Summer 2016 and Fall 2017, teams will receive training, facilitate meetings and listening sessions, conduct interviews and collect stories and information on community strengths and features such as annual events, local customs, traditions, historical sites, performance spaces, locally-owned restaurants, artisans, performance ensembles, service organizations, educational resources, media production and more. The teams will collaborate to create an interactive map of cultural assets in the Promise Zone to share with residents, local governments, tourism commissions and community development groups.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). As a recipient of an NEA Our Town planning grant, Partners for Education hopes to use creative asset mapping as a first step in harnessing the arts to improve livability in the Promise Zone. PFE hopes the asset mapping process will grow social and civic engagement in the region and that it will be followed by additional arts-focused projects and funding.

PFE is currently seeking volunteers to serve on the eight county teams. Ideal candidates include youth, adults, artists, activists, educators, city council and chamber of commerce members, and people from any walks of life who care about their counties and want to shine a spotlight on positive features that make their communities unique. In addition to free training and support, participants will also be eligible for funding of community projects based upon their research. More information will be forthcoming regarding meetings, listening sessions and other opportunities for general input. Contact Sarah Campbell at Berea College Partners for Education to learn more or get involved:, 859-200-9783.

Partners for Education at Berea College provides educational programming to children, families and schools to achieve the result – all Appalachian Kentucky youth succeed in school.

CONTACT: Sarah Campbell, Partners for Education at Berea College 859-200-9783,

Monday, April 18, 2016

Levitt Pavilions Sunsets; Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation Becomes Main National Levitt Organization: Change embodies creative placemaking focus for Foundation

Sharon Yazowski, Executive Director of the Levitt Foundation at a Levitt AMP concert in Middlesboro, September 2015. Credit: Discover Downtown Middlesboro. 
March 31, 2016—Beginning next month, the work of the national nonprofit, Levitt Pavilions, will be carried out by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, furthering its mission to strengthen communities across the country through free, live music. As part of the transition, the Levitt Foundation has unveiled a new logo reflecting its core values to support creative placemaking projects that are catalytic, dynamic and promote joy, inclusivity and connectedness.

“This exciting change signals our resolve to direct the majority of the Foundation’s philanthropy towards creative placemaking programs that focus on free concerts in public spaces” said Liz Levitt Hirsch, president of the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation. “With funding now geared to one main cause, it made sense to place the operations of our national organization under one roof and to function as the Levitt Foundation, thus sunsetting Levitt Pavilions.”

Since its founding in 1963 by Mortimer Levitt, founder of The Custom Shop retail stores, and his wife, Mimi, the Levitt Foundation has provided funding to a variety of performing arts organizations and educational institutions. In the early 1970s, as summer residents of Westport, Conn., Mortimer and Mimi were approached to support a community-driven project to transform a problematic landfill into an outdoor music venue. They ultimately became the campaign’s largest private contributors, prompting the town to name its new pavilion after them. In 1974, the first Levitt Pavilion was born. Its continuing success in presenting free concerts to the community over the decades later inspired the Levitts to support free outdoor concerts in other communities across America.

During the mid-2000s the Foundation began to accelerate its venture philanthropy investments modeled after the Levitt Pavilion in Westport, partnering with communities in developing permanent outdoor Levitt venues to present free concerts. It then recognized a need to provide targeted support and resources to each local Friends of Levitt nonprofit in a growing number of cities. Hence, the national nonprofit Levitt Pavilions was founded in 2009, complementing the Foundation’s support by providing meaningful resources to its Friends of Levitt partners presenting free concerts in their communities. In recent years, Levitt Pavilions has created new programs like the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards; commissioned a multi-year study researching the social and economic impact of Levitt venues; and has made the case—and raised national visibility for—the power of free, live music in public spaces to create joy and more vibrant communities.

Recognizing the deep impact of Levitt concert series in communities that collectively reach over 600,000 people across the country every year, during the past 18 months the Levitt Foundation has redirected its giving to focus on furthering the Levitt mission. With the transition, the mission remains the same: to empower communities to transform neglected public spaces into welcoming destinations where the power of free, live music brings people together and invigorates community life.

The Levitt Foundation’s primary funding areas include:

        Permanent Levitt venues

o   Provide seed funding to build or renovate a permanent outdoor music venue, known as a Levitt Pavilion or Levitt Shell, and multi-year annual operating support to partially fund a Friends of Levitt nonprofit partner that manages, programs and fundraises for the Levitt program of 50+ free concerts each year. These community-driven, public-private partnerships are typically geared to cities with populations over 400,000 and, while representing significant investments for the Foundation, each Friends of Levitt nonprofit partner receives the majority of its annual funding from the local community.

o   Permanent Levitt venues are located in Arlington, Texas; Bethlehem, Pa; Los Angeles; Memphis; Pasadena, Calif.; and Westport, Conn. Future venues are planned for Denver, Houston and Sioux Falls.

        Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards

o   Provide $25K annual matching grants to 15 nonprofits operating in small to mid-sized towns and cities to activate neglected public spaces through the Levitt AMP Music Series of 10 free concerts each year. Reflecting the Foundation’s ethos that all Levitt projects are community-driven, each year finalists are selected through an online public voting process.

o   2016 Levitt AMP Winners hail from Asbury Park, N.J.; Carson City, Nev.; Charlottesville, Va.; Cleveland, Miss.; Denison, Texas; Frederick, Md.; Greensboro, N.C.; Jacksonville, Ill.; Middlesboro, Ky.; Midvale, Utah; New Albany, Miss.; North Adams, Mass.; Sheboygan, Wis.; Trenton, N.J.; and Utica, N.Y.

Both permanent Levitt venues and Levitt AMP sites present free, family-friendly concerts of the highest caliber in welcoming outdoor settings, inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to come together and experience a broad range of music genres and a shared sense of community.

The impact is far-reaching: activating once-neglected public spaces, ensuring access to the performing arts, spurring economic development, and amplifying community pride. Permanent Levitt venues have inspired additional investments, both public and private, including improvements to park infrastructure and the opening of new restaurants and retail in the venue’s vicinity due to increased foot traffic. With this success, additional communities are seeking Levitt support for their own town or city. In the coming years, the Levitt Foundation anticipates expanding the types of projects it supports to further strengthen communities and ensure access to the performing arts in public spaces.

Learn more at

The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, private foundation.

Contact: Vanessa Silberman 
Senior Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Local Foods, Local Places Community Planning Events, Mar 7-8 in Middlesboro, Kentucky

Update: We have a growing list of Federal, State, and Regional leaders joining us for our Local Foods, Local Places Community Planning Session next week.
  • Anne Keller, US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Barry Turner, USDA - Kentucky
  • Christopher D. Taylor, Housing and Urban Development
  • Damasi "D" Bell, USDA, Southeast Regional Office, Food and Nutrition Services
  • Donna Baker McClure, US Senator Mitch McConnell
  • Elaine Russell, Kentucky Obesity Protection Program
  • Erin O'Keefe, US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Jodie Williams, Kentucky Department for Local Government
  • Kenny Madden, Fahe
  • Mary Moran, Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Melissa Bond, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension
  • Rebecca Jane Miller, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension
  • Reed W. Cripps, USDA
  • Sandi Curd, Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone
  • Stephanie Bertaina, US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Troy Hearn, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Stakeholders and community leaders such as you, interested in making Middlesboro a more livable, healthy, vibrant, and engaged community through the building and strengthening your local food economy. Participants include representatives from community agencies, organizations, elected officials, residents, and a technical assistance team including representatives of EPA, USDA, ARC and other federal agencies as well as facilitators from from Renaissance Planning Group who have been contracted by the EPA to lead this engaging and “fruitful” community planning process.

What: A participatory planning process on local foods and community livability in Middlesboro, including group work sessions and networking that will result in an Action Plan. The two-day process will be focused primarily around, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Further develop and complete citywide trail system as an asset for active living and tourism
  • Repurpose Elks building as a catalytic project
  • Focus on entrepreneurship and economic development
  • Partner with health care and educational institutions as economic assets and as providers of health and food education and services
  • Clarify process for project and program design as well as structures of collaboration and coordination for implementing projects across organizations.

RSVP by Friday, March 4 to Tel: (606) 248-6155 or Email: downtownmiddlesboro(at) When you register a detailed schedule and other info will be sent.

Background: In 2015, the City of Middlesboro submitted an application for technical assistance from the federal Local Foods, Local Places Initiative. A team of experts will join local stakeholders like you in a two-day workshop to develop an action plan to better tie together the resources we have, identify the major missing pieces, and bridge gaps.  We will work to prioritize next steps and identify roles, responsibilities, and resources to move forward. Your participation and knowledge of Middlesboro and the region, its local food systems, culture, economy, and vitality are necessary to help make this event a success.

For more information, see:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Middlesboro Among 27 Communities Nationally to Boost Neighborhood Revitalization through Local Food Enterprises

Middlesboro, Kentucky - Discover Downtown Middlesboro is one of only 27 winners nationally and the only city in Kentucky selected this year to receive technical assistance through the "Local Food, Local Places" program. Federal partners in this program include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and Delta Regional Authority (DRA).

This technical assistance program is designed to help communities nationwide who are looking to capitalize on the growing demand for local foods to:

  • Boost economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses, and foster entrepreneurship.
  • Improve access to healthy local food, particularly among disadvantaged groups with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Revitalize downtowns, main street districts, and traditional neighborhoods by supporting farmers markets, food hubs, community gardens, community kitchens, and other kinds of local food enterprises, and by providing people with affordable choices for accessing those amenities, such as walking, biking, or taking transit.

The Local Foods, Local Places program will build on the success of previous planning efforts and initiatives that Discover Downtown Middlesboro has been working on for several years. 

  • In 2013 DDM completed a 5-year strategic plan with support from the Appalachian Regional Commission through a Flex-E-Grant administered by the Brushy Fork Institute at Berea College. This plan laid out targeted strategic actions around areas including trail system development, job creation and entrepreneurship, and historic preservation.
  • Middlesboro and the Cumberland Gap region were invited to participate in the Appalachian Gateway Communities Initiative training in Abingdon, Virginia. This training was jointly held by The Conservation Fund, Appalachian Regional Commission, National Endowment for the Arts and National Trust for Historic Preservation. It focused on asset-based approaches to revitalization.
  • The University of Kentucky Department of Landscape Architecture and the National Park Service partnered with DDM in 2014 to develop an award-winning plan for a city wide trail system that connects the downtown to the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and surrounding neighborhoods. Construction of trails called for in this plan has begun.
  • Most recently the Selling to the World Initiative was started to help train artisans in entrepreneurship and to sell their work online. Funding for this initiative was provided by the New York Community Trust and involves a partnership with the Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program.

Trail plans developed with assistance from the University of Kentucky and the National Parks Service. Credit: DDM.

DDM Executive Director Isaac Kremer said "Selection as a Local Foods, Local Places winner is a validation of the hard work our organization has done and acknowledges the amazing opportunities ahead for our town and region. Improvements downtown are reaching a critical mass thanks to efforts to convert vacant and underutilized spaces for community use. The Levitt AMP Middlesboro Music Series, pop-up parks we've created, and the possibility of new restaurants opening downtown all stand to benefit from this latest win."

Elements included in DDM's winning application included plans to create pallet gardens, low-cost mobile food carts, and business strategies for restaurants; a co-op grocery store; and other local food enterprises to employ low-income residents. 

Technical Assistance Process

A Steering Committee is being formed to help prepare for the upcoming workshop. Specific groups we're seeking to participate include Agricultural Service Providers, Community Leaders and Elected Officials, Community Groups and Institutions, Funders, Local and Regional Farmers, Health Care Providers, Gardening Groups, Local Food Groups, Local Businesses, and the Media. A full list of groups we're seeking to participate is on our website.

The assessment phase involves identifying community issues and opportunities and coordinating partners in preparation for the on-site workshop. This phase lasts about six to eight weeks and involves selecting a local steering committee to guide the project and participate in three or more preparatory calls. The convening phase includes a 1.5 day workshop where the community gathers with the consulting team and federal and state partners to develop a set of goals and an action plan. During the next steps phase, the consulting team works closely with the steering committee to begin preparing the action plan. This phase takes about six to eight weeks and involves reviewing the draft plan, noting any missing pieces, and identifying implementation resources.

A public meeting will be held the evening of Monday, March 7 at The Palace, 2008 Cumberland Ave. Those wishing to participate should contact Discover Downtown Middlesboro at (606) 248-6155 or via their website at

The full release follows...
Obama Administration to Partner with 27 Communities to Boost Neighborhood Revitalization through Local Food Enterprises

Release No. 0024.16
Office of Communications (202)720-4623
Obama Administration to Partner with 27 Communities to Boost Neighborhood Revitalization through Local Food Enterprises
Local Foods, Local Places Empowers Creative Economic Development in Rural and Urban Communities in 22 states
WASHINGTON, January 25, 2016 – Today, on behalf of the White House Rural Council, six federal agencies joined together to announce the selection of 27 communities in 22 states that will participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative that helps communities increase economic opportunities for local farmers and related businesses, create vibrant places and promote childhood wellness by improving access to healthy local food.
Developed as a partnership between USDA, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority, this initiative is part of the White House Rural Council's Rural Impact work to improve quality of life and upward mobility for children and families in rural and tribal communities.
"The community where a child grows up impacts her odds of graduating high school, health outcomes and lifetime economic opportunities," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This Administration has embarked on a different, locally-driven approach to empower homegrown solutions. Projects like these help us learn how to better coordinate and target federal assistance as we work with communities to ensure zip codes never determine a child's destiny and every part of America prospers."
"Local Foods, Local Places helps people access healthy local food and supports new businesses in neighborhoods that need investment," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "The program is good for the environment, public health and the economy. By helping bring healthy local food to market and offering new walking and biking options, Local Foods, Local Places can help improve air quality, support local economies, and protect undeveloped green space."
"The United States is facing a growing population and demographic shifts that demand a transportation system prepared for the 21st century," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Local Foods, Local Places helps to promote investments in local roads and transit services that connect farmers, businesses, and residents further strengthening local economies and improving the quality of life in rural and urban communities."
"Healthy food and regular physical activity are key ingredients to a long, productive life – but access to vegetables, fruits and walkable areas is limited for some," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD MPH. "The Local Foods, Local Places program can increase access to these important resources, and CDC is proud to support the expansion of this program in 2016."
"Local Food, Local Places provides tools for Appalachian communities to make local food more impactful for local economies," said Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl. "It's exciting to see how community leaders leverage Federal support to build stronger and healthier economies across Appalachia."
"One of the greatest opportunities we see in the Delta region is entrepreneurship and innovation in the agriculture sector. Delta communities have some of the richest farmland and experienced farmers in the world and thus a competitive advantage to develop impactful strategies to feed their residents and boost economic and community development," said Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chair Chris Masingill, "We're seeing impressive results from last year's Local Food, Local Places communities and look forward to the innovative strategies these new communities will create."
The 27 communities selected for 2016 were chosen from more than 300 applicants. Each Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) partner community works with a team of experts who help community members recognize local assets and opportunities, set goals for revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods, develop an implementation plan and then identify targeted resources from the participating federal agencies to help implement those plans.
Launched in 2014, LFLP has already helped 26 communities make a difference in people's lives. With technical assistance through LFLP, participants are taking innovative approaches to common challenges, like launching business incubators to support food entrepreneurs and starting cooperative grocery stores to help revitalize main streets. They are developing centrally located community kitchens and food hubs to aggregate and market local foods. Through the integration of transportation and walkability planning they are connecting people to markets and local restaurants. Health outcomes are being targeted through school and community programs that teach children about nutrition, provide hands-on experience growing food and expand local markets and increase access to them through expanded use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Working with LFLP technical supports teams:
  • Williamson, W.V. (population 3,000) is working to improve its food and health care systems with a Federally Qualified Health Center dedicated to establishing a culture of health through community and clinical interventions by expanding the local food system, improving access to fresh, healthy foods, promoting an active lifestyle and providing greater access to health care.
  • Rocky Mount, N.C. (population 56,325) is exploring opportunities to establish a farmers' market and urban community gardens on former brownfield sites, Federal Emergency Management Agency buyout lots, and nearby affordable housing developments.
  • Clarksdale, Miss. (population 17,011) is developing a vegetable farming-based job training program and a series of community gardens that will supply food for a new farmers market and café.
  • Fallon, Nev. (population 8,439) is organizing stakeholders to start a community-owned grocery store in an abandoned building downtown.
Local Food, Local Places is one of the Administration's community-based initiatives in action across the country. In these places federal experts are working side by side with residents and local leaders to create customized solutions; bolstering coordination across agencies and improving how we interact with communities as a 'one Government' partner; and relying on valuable data to help inform solutions and evaluate what is working and what is not.
  • Bessemer, Alabama, will receive technical assistance to start a farmers market in their downtown, convert vacant lots into community gardens, and build an urban farm and garden project using a former public housing property on a federally designated flood plain.
  • Grow Palmer, in Palmer, Alaska, will receive technical assistance to support a sustainable food system and trail network in its downtown and foster coordination among organizations working on Palmer's local food economy.
  • Lake Village, Arkansas, will grow the city's community garden, expand worksite wellness programing for local businesses, and connect its parks with new trail systems to improve local food access, promote active living, and stimulate economic development.
  • Fresno, California, plans to establish the Downtown Fresno Public Market as a downtown anchor, leveraging existing resources to provide local food access and attract residents and visitors.
  • Denver, Colorado, will receive technical assistance to identify strategies to enhance local food systems and local food education, and incorporate local foods into the redevelopment of the National Western Center to improve public health and economic and community development opportunities for neighborhood residents.
  • The University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado, will partner with the city, downtown businesses, and community organizations to connect their existing health and well-being initiatives with a new program in sustainable food systems.
  • The Winder Housing Authority in Winder, Georgia, plans to develop a pedestrian-accessible community kitchen and garden in the city's Community Development Center.
  • The Hawaii Community Development Authority in Honolulu, Hawaii, plans to identify food-based projects that will spur greater investment and stewardship in the Kakaako Makai community, improve returns on local food production, integrate food security initiatives with community and transit-oriented development planning, and reduce stormwater runoff and vulnerability to sea level rise.
  • Gary, Indiana, will receive technical assistance to encourage urban agriculture programs across 12 neighborhoods, develop strategies to strengthen local garden groups' impact on public health, and forge connections among existing neighborhood planning initiatives.
  • Discover Downtown Middlesboro, Inc. in Middlesboro, Kentucky, plans to create pallet gardens, low-cost mobile food carts, and business strategies for restaurants; a co-op grocery store; and other local food enterprises to employ low-income residents.
  • The Baltimore Public Markets Corporation in Baltimore, Maryland, plans to revitalize Avenue Market in the distressed Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood to increase access to healthy food and promote economic development.
  • Somos Inc. in Crisfield, Maryland, will receive technical assistance to establish a year-round farmers market downtown, restoring community members' access to healthy foods, which was lost when Superstorm Sandy destroyed the town's grocery store.
  • Gloucester, Massachusetts, will receive technical assistance to integrate seafood into food systems planning and use local foods to improve health and drive downtown revitalization.
  • Ozark County Homegrown Food Projects in Gainesville, Missouri, plans to start a community garden in the city park and open a community kitchen and food shop in Gainesville Square.
  • Henderson, Nevada, will receive technical assistance to develop a food access plan that connects key community areas and offers residents healthy, convenient alternatives for accessing food, work, school, and play throughout downtown Henderson.
New Jersey
  • Passaic, New Jersey, will receive technical assistance to strengthen business partnerships in the Eastside neighborhood's ethnic restaurant and food service enclave so those local businesses can better market and connect themselves with the area's redevelopment projects.
New York
  • The Adirondack North County Association and community partners in Keeseville, New York, will receive technical assistance to connect revitalization efforts downtown with local food and agritourism activities.
North Carolina
  • High Point, North Carolina, will receive technical assistance to develop a farmers market and other health and wellness programs for its new central library plaza.
  • The Redevelopment Authority in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, will receive technical assistance to attract more producers to the farmers market, expand cultivation of specialty crops, develop a flexible kitchen space facility, and establish a restaurant corridor reflective of the area's historically diverse cultures to entice people to downtown.
South Carolina
  • The Colleton Museum and Farmers Market in Walterboro, South Carolina, will receive technical assistance to build partnerships, explore funding opportunities, and grow markets for local food.
South Dakota
  • Rosebud Economic Development Corporation of the Sioux Tribe in Mission, South Dakota, will receive technical assistance to establish a hub of healthy activity centered on local food using a new trail system that links the local grocery store, community garden, farmers market, creek, and wetlands.
  • Jackson, Tennessee, plans to create a school-based farmers market using food from the local high school's garden and to connect the West Tennessee Farmers Market with surrounding neighborhoods to improve local food access and increase economic opportunity for farmers.
  • Martin, Tennessee, will receive technical assistance to launch a "Using Food to Build Community" forum to facilitate regular communication between local food producers and consumers, and encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing between different groups.
  • Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market in Memphis, Tennessee, will receive technical assistance to develop a permanent, versatile, and more accessible space to host its farmers market and serve as a public square for the city.
  • Dallas, Texas, will receive technical assistance to form a local food branding campaign and an alliance of garden and farm enthusiasts to build public awareness, community cohesion, and relationships between growers and local businesses and help community gardens share expertise and increase the size and variety of their yields.
  • Christiansburg, Virginia, will receive technical assistance to identify funding and marketing strategies to expand its newly established farmers market, find a permanent location for the market, and attract more shops and restaurants downtown.
West Virginia
  • The Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation in Rainelle, West Virginia, will receive technical assistance to establish a mentor program for farmers and producers, develop a community grocery store, form a food alliance, and put vacant land into productive use.