And the promotion of small business.
Eastern Kentucky PRIDE -- the brainchild of Somerset's own U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers -- has worked tirelessly toward improving the 5th District for the past two decades.
Rogers announced yesterday that PRIDE will receive a big shot in the arm in the form of a $1.15 million POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for a new tourism marketing campaign that will rebrand 41-counties across Southern and Eastern Kentucky as "The Kentucky Wildlands."
"For more than 20 years, PRIDE volunteers have done a wonderful job cleaning up our hillsides, lakes and streams. As their environmental work continues, I applaud PRIDE for engaging in tourism-related efforts to let the rest of the world know that we live in one of the most beautiful and adventurous parts of the country," said Rogers, who launched Eastern Kentucky PRIDE in 1997. "The Kentucky Wildlands appropriately captures the majesty of our Appalachian mountains and the wildlife that can be found throughout our region.
"New tourism opportunities are rapidly developing in our counties, like new hiking and biking trails, new water recreation, ziplining, rock climbing, kayaking and more," Rogers added. "This new marketing campaign will help get the word out about all of the new exciting activities that await our tourists."
According to Rogers, for every dollar spent on advertising, $151 is returned with visitor spending and over $15 in state and local revenue. The project establishes a robust marketing and branding plan, with $500,000 set aside for marketing the region, creating a potential revenue of $75.5 million in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.
"I want to thank Congressman Rogers and Senator McConnell for championing this project on behalf of the people they serve in this 41-county region. Their support of the grant application ensured that the key decision-makers recognized it as a sound investment of ARC funding," said Tammie Nazario, President and CEO of Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, the nonprofit spearheading the project.
The two-year plan will also foster small business creation as tourism increases in the region.
Today's announcement is one of 54 investments totaling $44.4 million via ARC's POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, a congressionally-funded opportunity targeting federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries.
"I congratulate PRIDE for being an FY 2019 POWER grantee, and commend them on the leadership they have shown in their community," said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. "POWER grants are playing a critical role in supporting coal-impacted communities in the Appalachian Region as they diversify economies, invest in growth-oriented infrastructure, train a next-generation workforce, and ingrain resiliency and hope into their local fabric. Projects like this help ensure a prosperous future for Appalachia."
As Senate Majority Leader and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, McConnell advocates for ARC and its targeted programs supporting communities impacted by the downturn in the coal sector, including those in Eastern Kentucky. In particular, he secures funding for the POWER grant program, which gives local organizations the tools they need to make a positive impact in their communities. Since becoming Majority Leader, McConnell has secured hundreds of millions of dollars for the ARC POWER grant program.
Aside from the PRIDE initiative, McConnell also helped secure ARC funds for the Pikeville Medical Center ($1.5 million) and the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky ($1.5 million). These projects were also announced on Tuesday.
"It was a privilege to join local leaders to secure this $4.15 million investment into Eastern Kentucky and to help support the region's bright future," said McConnell. "I've long supported ARC's mission to encourage economic development throughout Appalachia, and I'm proud of its active role in Kentucky communities.
"The competitive federal grants announced today will build upon community-driven innovation to establish a premier children's hospital, to enhance tourism, and to foster future growth throughout the region," McConnell added. "Kentucky continues to punch above its weight in Washington, and I'm proud to use my position as Senate Majority Leader to consistently deliver for our Commonwealth."