In late 2014 two Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in Arkansas announced they would bring their expertise and resources together by merging. The Community Resource Group (CRG), based in Fayetteville, and alt.Consulting, based in Pine Bluff, merged to create Communities Unlimited. Historically, CRG provided technical assistance to rural communities for affordable housing and wastewater solutions; alt.Consulting focused on helping rural communities grow entrepreneurs and small businesses through technical assistance and lending programs, and worked with renewable energy and energy efficiency in smaller rural communities in the Delta. The mission of Communities Unlimited is to move rural and under-resourced communities in areas of persistent poverty to sustainable prosperity. They serve seven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. To find out more, visit www.communitiesu.org/.
The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) awarded $1.5 million in new investments across the organization's footprint to transform workforce development in the communities it serves. The resources specifically fund technical assistance and capacity-building for communities and regional clusters with a particular focus on younger and underserved populations to meet the needs of business and industry. The new investments are a part of the DRA's Reimagining the Delta Workforce initiative. To learn more, visit http://dra.gov/newsroom/press-release/delta-regional-authority-awards-1.5-million-in-new-investments/.
In January, Louisville received a $425,000 Choice Neighborhoods planning grant from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for Beecher Terrace, a public housing development in the city. According to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, the planning process will take about two years to develop a road map to transform the Russell neighborhood through housing, education and other key aspects of life there. While the money is not for building, the planning grant is the first step.
HUD Secretary Julian Castro announced $3.2 million in grants to six cities, including St. Louis. HUD's new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is a successor to the HOPE VI program that provided millions of dollars to rebuild other complexes in the city. For more information on the initiative, visit http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing/programs/ph/cn.
The Tennessee Arts Commission has designed a Creative Placemaking Grants Competition to help build stronger communities through the arts. It specifically focuses on the use of arts or cultural assets to enhance the distinctive character of local Tennessee places for positive economic and community outcomes. Creative placemaking provides the opportunity to animate public and private spaces, rejuvenate structures and streetscapes and improve local business visibility and public safety. It brings diverse people together to build shared understanding of culture and community. This grants competition offers opportunities for applicants to build on the distinctiveness of place.
The Commission expects to provide five to ten awards ranging from $5,000 to $8,000 for projects that occur in one place. Applications that involve partnerships of two or more towns, cities and/or counties can request up to $10,000. At least two awards will be made to eligible rural applicants. A total of $50,000 in grants will be awarded for FY2016.
More information and grant applications are now available online at http://tnartseducation.org/grants/fy2016-17-creative-placemaking-grant-program. The deadline for submissions is midnight (CT) July 17, 2015. For questions, contact Shannon Ford at 615-532-9796 or Hal Partlow at 615-741-2093.