U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) have launched a Planning Assistance Program for rural communities to enhance the connection between Main Street businesses and recreational activities nearby in an effort to build stronger communities for a sustainable future. Through the planning assistance program communities across the country learn how to develop strategies that are conducive to smart growth, and benefit both Main Street activities and the outdoor recreational assets nearby.
Thriving communities invest in amenities such as broadband service, electric vehicle charging stations, housing, art centers, shops, restaurants, and breweries to ensure a high quality of life for residents but also attract visitors who are drawn to the area by the surrounding outdoor recreational activities.
The village of Cambridge, NY, for instance, was one of the communities selected in the first round launched in 2019. Through the planning process, assets were mapped, and priorities were set to connect recreational and cultural assets as well as promote smart growth. You can learn about this process at https://outdoorfuncambridgeny.org/.
The applications for the next round are due by Nov. 22, 2021. Learn more about this program and how to apply at https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/recreation-economy-rural-communities-2021-application.