Highland County EDA Awarded $30,000 Rural Community Development Initiative Grant

In July 2020, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) began working to provide comprehensive capacity building services through the federal Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) to six recipient organizations located in rural and/or economically challenged regions of Virginia.

The RCDI program seeks to increase a community’s readiness to undertake community and economic development projects through technical assistance from DHCD staff and consultants, while addressing organizational, economic and design improvements within each recipient community. The capacity building program also provides a funding opportunity to help recipients implement activities that align with the community’s strategic planning goals, which are developed and made clear through the RCDI program.

The Highland County Economic Development Authority (EDA), one of six RCDI recipients across the state, received an RCDI grant, totaling $30,000, from DHCD to fund planning efforts that will formalize working groups, streamline communications and create cooperative strategies amongst county partners that successfully bolster tourism, leverage remote work opportunities, support the re-opening of the Highland Inn and entice more people to live, work and play in Highland County!

The project will, specifically, accomplish the following:

  • Strengthen community partnerships and collaborative efforts amongst county organizations;
  • Establish plans and procedures to attract visitors and residents to Highland County;
  • Identify resources to help renovate and re-open the Highland Inn and support area businesses;
  • Promote tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities; and
  • Increase local spending and investment through remote worker / resident attraction.

Apart from helping to fund planning efforts, a portion of the RCDI grant will allow Highland County to participate in the new Work from Home Pilot Program that was launched by DHCD to help localities strengthen their remote worker / resident attraction efforts, ensuring they’re built around individuals and place-based strategies. As a participant, Highland County will learn to leverage remote work opportunities as part of a comprehensive revitalization strategy, and technical assistance will be provided to analyze the demand, target market and place-based gaps in supporting remote workers.

Leading up to the project and participation in the Work from Home Pilot Program, Highland County EDA has maintained an active role in the RCDI program, engaging the community and other partners to leverage results, while nurturing relationships with local organizations to meet objectives and goals. For many months, they have worked alongside DHCD to identify new development opportunities, assess the county’s strengths and challenges and determine how the county, specifically organizations, can ensure the future growth and success of Highland County.

Image Credit: Shenandoah Valley

Image Credit: Virginia Tourism