Four projects have been selected to receive funding through the Center's 2019-2020 small grants program, based on input from an independent review panel. The four project teams comprise 35 individuals from nine states, who will address community and economic development issues including the recreation economy, entrepreneurship education, Main Street revitalization, and attracting new residents. Congratulations to the funded teams, and thanks to everyone who submitted a proposal!

Best Practices in Bike/Pedestrian Trail Data Collection and Monitoring

  • Laura Brown, University of Connecticut (PI)
  • Charles Tracy, University of Connecticut (Co-PI)
  • Sohyun Park, University of Connecticut (Co-PI)
  • Sungmin Lee, University of Connecticut (Co-PI)
  • Ryan Faulkner, University of Connecticut (Co-PI)
  • Anita Morzillo, University of Connecticut (Co-PI)
  • Shannon Rogers, University of New Hampshire (Co-PI)
  • Charlie French, University of New Hampshire (Co-PI)
  • Emma Tutein, University of New Hampshire (Co-PI)
  • Greg Lindsey, University of Minnesota (Co-PI)
  • Lisa Chase, University of Vermont (Co-PI)

Abstract: Communities across the country are capitalizing on trails to stimulate the local economy, improve community connectivity, engagement, and quality of life. Many trail corridors are also becoming hotspots for investment and communities want to understand how to best capitalize on these amenities. This proposal builds on learning from the NERCRD Grant Downtowns and Trails Program Assessment and will involve 1) sharing and documenting best practices in data collection and monitoring in Northeast states 2) providing a colloquium style forum for integrating learning from academics and practitioners 3) establishing a peer network of colleagues interested in ongoing collaboration.

Main Street Revitalization: Exploring New Initiatives for Cooperative Extension in Strengthening the Economy, Bringing Vibrancy and Expanding Leadership in Rural Communities.

  • Molly Donovan, University of New Hampshire (PI)
  • Casey Porter, University of New Hampshire (Co-PI)
  • Suzanne Cagle, University of New Hampshire(Co-PI)
  • Charlie French, University of New Hampshire (Co-PI)
  • Julien Kouame, University of New Hampshire (Co-PI)
  • Kristen Grant, University of Maine (Co-PI)
  • Adam Hodges, West Virginia State University (Co-PI)
  • Christopher Zeto, West Virginia State University (Co-PI)
  • Jennifer Bunner, West Virginia State University (Co-PI)

Abstract: Main street is a center of community and commerce. Some communities lack capacity for a revitalization process needed for greater investment, business development and vibrancy. This proposal seeks to explore the role of Cooperative Extension in main street revitalization training. University of New Hampshire has developed Main Street Academy as a new approach to building capacity for revitalization. This proposal uses a train the trainer approach to share the work of Main Street Academy in West Virginia to explore the factors in replicating this program in the northeast region. Final products include a written report, conference presentation and webinar.

Marketing Hometown America

  • Peter Wulfhorst, Penn State Extension (PI)
  • Michael Dougherty, West Virginia University Extension (PI)
  • Tanya Lamo, Penn State Extension (Co-PI)
  • Neal Fogle, Penn State Extension (Co-PI)
  • John Turack, Penn State Extension (Co-PI)
  • Linda Falcone, Penn State Extension (Co-PI)
  • Doug Arbogast, West Virginia University Extension (Co-PI)
  • Daniel Eades, West Virginia University Extension (Co-PI)
  • Penny Whitman, University of New Hampshire Extension (Co-PI)

Abstract: Marketing Hometown America is an educational program that has been implemented successfully in several midwestern states. The program helps guide rural communities through the decision-making process on how to market themselves to potential new residents, thus empowering communities to create a vision to grow. The team will use the NERCRD funding to conduct a train-the-trainer event to be delivered by University of Nebraska Extension to Extension faculty and educators from Penn State, West Virginia and New Hampshire. The training event will take place in Centre County, Pennsylvania, in early 2020. In turn, each Extension team participating will deliver the curriculum in pilot communities in their respective states, using both NERCRD funding and funding from additional community partners.

Discontinued due to complications presented by the COVID-19 pandemic:

Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities

  • Carla Snyder, Penn State Extension (PI)
  • Tanya Lamo, Penn State Extension (Co-PI)
  • Glori Hyman, University of Maryland (Co-PI)
  • Temitope Fajingbesi, University of Maryland (Co-PI)
  • Andy Hayes, Michigan State University (Co-PI)
  • Diane Loganbach, Michigan State University (Co-PI)
  • Jason Weigle, University of Nebraska (Co-PI)

Abstract: Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities is a community development initiative that focuses on entrepreneurial education and brings together entrepreneurs, economic development professionals, and leaders to strengthen entrepreneurial networks for the purpose of small to medium enterprises (SME) economic growth and community revitalization. The main educational event is a two-day conference located in a community poised for growth. It exemplifies research-based topics while showcasing successes of similar communities to empower leaders to grow their businesses and in turn their communities. It has proven success in 10 Michigan communities and five midwestern states. We intend to bring this initiative to Pennsylvania to extend its Northeast reach.