On Wednesday, August 15, four senior Obama Administration officials will be in Candler to visit the local winners of the national Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a multi-agency initiative to spur job creation and economic growth in rural regions across the country.
One of the five winning Appalachian projects, WNC AgriVentures, was submitted as a joint undertaking by the AdvantageWest Economic Development Group in Fletcher and Land-of-Sky Regional Council in Asheville. They were awarded $815,000 through the Challenge.
The four officials, representing the federal agencies sponsoring the Challenge, will tour the Blue Ridge Food Ventures kitchen incubator and hold a roundtable discussion about the potential economic impact of the project with the grantees and their partners.
The officials are:
• Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine
• Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development Doug O’Brien
• Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl
• Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Christopher Masingill
Representing the grantees are:
• Scott Hamilton, Chief Executive Officer, Advantage West
• Joe McKinney, Executive Director, Land-of-Sky Regional Council
About WNC AgriVenture
The project seeks to address critical economic development concerns in rural regions including: quality job creation, creating strong linkages between regional industries and rural communities, filling supply-chain gaps in growing rural sustainable industries, engaging youth in rural entrepreneurship, supporting private sector innovation and business creation, retaining wealth in rural communities, and creating a replicable model for regional sustainable economic development in rural Appalachia and America. The project will assist the sustainable agriculture and natural resources clusters by developing planning, feasibility studies and small pilot programs to identify and promote investment in major supply chain opportunities and provide Western North Carolina businesses with access to new technology from regional universities and other research and development centers.