Small towns in the United States don’t get much media attention unless something very good or very bad happens. Big cities generally hog the limelight. Even in popular culture, although you’ll get some rural backdrops for TV shows or movies as in Justified and Winter’s Bone, big cities get far more screen time.
Many small towns also struggle economically, because people are naturally drawn to the dynamism of cities and their suburbs. Some ambitious small towns, however, are going to try to change this by entering a contest that will help them tap into an economic dynamism of their own.
Today at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Vince Gill, a member of that Hall, and three corporations—Frontier Communications, DISH Network, and CoBank—will announce a new partnership and a significant investment that will drive economic revitalization in small towns and rural communities across the United States. The event, at 11:00 a.m. EST/10:00 a.m. CST, will be streamed live online at the America’s Best Communities website.
The contest offers up to $3 million for economic revitalization to small towns in the Frontier Communications service area (27 states), limited to towns with populations of 9,500 to 80,000. Extensive applications must be filled out by community teams that must include three to five businesses that will potentially benefit from the public-private partnership.
Fifty quarter-finalists will be chosen to complete a community revitalization plan focused on economic development. Several other steps and requirements must be met at each step, with judges picking the three winners and the prize money going toward implementing their revitalization plans.
Gill and representatives from the three corporations will sit together in a comfortable setting on the Ford Theater’s stage and share updates and insights about their investment and its ability to positively impact small towns and rural communities.
Small towns were once the backbone of this nation, and the values that arose there helped spur the ambitions and aptituted that made the United States the most powerful, and (not incidentally) hopeful, nation on Earth. Although Gill’s project won’t by itself revitalize the nation’s small towns, it’s a laudable effort, and it would be a fine thing if technological changes were to make small-town life more viable in the years to come.