Bring cancer-prevention information to your community

Appalachia Community Cancer Network

Five universities are working together to make sure that people in Appalachia do not suffer a greater cancer risk than people elsewhere. Virginia Tech is a partner in the Appalachia Community Cancer Network (ACCN), which is one of 23 Community Networks Program Centers across the country funded by the National Cancer Institute. To arrange for a cancer-prevention presentation, contact the principal investigator at Virginia Tech, Karen A. Roberto, 540-231-7657,

Learn how the Appalachian Regional Commission can help you

Appalachian Regional Commission

The focus of the Appalachian Regional Commission is fostering economic development and improving the quality of life for Appalachian citizens. The ARC provides assistance in the long-term development of a chronically-depressed region, which encompasses 420 counties in 13 states. The ARC defines Appalachia, gives grants, keeps stats and operates as a clearinghouse. Here you can find background information on subjects such as asset-based development.

Healing our land, growing our future

Appalachian Voices

A report released by Appalachian Voices, in partnership with Coal Mining Engineering Services LLC and Downstream Strategies, highlights the economic development potential of more than a dozen abandoned coal mining sites in Southwest Virginia that could be repurposed into solar farms, community parks, sustainable farms, or other innovative projects with funding from the RECLAIM Act, now pending in Congress. The report, “Healing Our Land, Growing Our Future,” identifies 14 sites in seven counties that represent the best potential for reclaiming old coal sites and re-developing them with projects that yield lasting and sustainable economic benefits for the surrounding area.

Providing an early warning of financial distress

Commonwealth of Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts




The Auditor of Public Accounts prepares the annual Comparative Report of Local Government Revenues and Expenditures and oversees local government audits. Among the various resources available on the APA website is the Fiscal Stress Monitoring Follow-Up Questionnaire. Based on a model developed by the APA, the questionnaire serves as an early warning system to identify possible fiscal distress within towns and cities across the commonwealth.

Supporting regional entrepreneurship


The Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority (BRCEDA), which is based in Carroll County, Grayson County, and the City of Galax, focuses on developing a culture of entrepreneurship on a regional scale.

Utilize media to create an accurate representation of rural life

Center for Rural Strategies

The Center for Rural Strategies, headquartered in Whitesburg, Ky., seeks to improve economic and social conditions for communities in the countryside and around the world through the creative and innovative use of media and communications. Rural Strategies works with communities and nonprofit organizations to design and implement information campaigns that educate the public about the problems and opportunities that exist in contemporary rural communities.

Rural Strategies publishes information about rural issues, works with press to assist them in the coverage of rural topics, and works with a wide range of partners to build a stronger voice on behalf of rural communities.

Consider design as a powerful tool to improve your community

Citizens' Institute on Rural Design

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) offers annual competitive funding for small towns and rural communities to host community design workshops. Outside of the workshops, CIRD also offers a vast array of helpful resources for rural communities, including ‘how to’ guides, case studies, and worksheets. Topics covered include design issues surrounding downtown revitalization and heritage preservation, as well as community issues like declining population, economic development and local identity.

Research programs that could help you create a stronger community

Department of Housing and Community Development

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is committed to creating safe, affordable, and prosperous communities to live, work and do business in Virginia. DHCD partners with Virginia’s communities to develop their economic potential and invests more than $100 million each year into housing and community development projects throughout the state. Visit the DHCD website to learn more about the programs and services offered.

Learn what may be lurking beneath the surface

Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy

You can learn about sinkholes, abandoned mines, geologic hazards, and even potential landslides in or near your town thanks to voluminous information collected by the geologists at Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. For more information, contact Tarah Kesterson at 276-523-8146, or check out the Mapping Center on the department’s website.

Learn about available resources for job seekers and employers in Virginia

Elevate Virginia

Elevate Virginia is a network of business, education and workforce partners committed to connecting Virginians to the skills and credentials that lead to jobs and lifelong career progression, and businesses to regional solutions to ensure a skilled and ready workforce today and in the future.

Become the beneficiary of a service-learning project by inviting student volunteers to your town

Emory and Henry

Emory & Henry operates the Appalachian Center for Civic Life, which is devoted to community development as well as inculcating its students with a sense of service. Student projects have ranged from performing needs assessments to grant writing to assisting with strategic plans. Contact Professor Tal Stanley, 276-944-6817,

How small towns and cities can use local assets to rebuild their economies

EPA report cover

Discover how many successful small towns and cities found success by emphasizing their existing assets and distinctive resources in this comprehensive report from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Tap in to technical assistance targeted to small towns and rural communities


In partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations, the National Association of Counties and others, the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) is providing technical assistance and support to small towns and rural places that are engaged in the HUD-funded regional sustainability planning grants.  As part of this project, ICMA is developing white papers on topics such as asset based economic development and will deliver other content through forums such as webinars and web workshops as well as other resources developed through other projects including ICMA’s most often downloaded publication–Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities.

Find resources for your community through LISC


The Local Initiatives Support Corporation equips struggling communities with the capital, strategy, and know-how to become places where people can thrive. LISC collaborates with local groups to identify priorities and challenges for low-income communities, formulate strategies to address those needs, and provide necessary support.

With offices in 31 cities and a rural program that touches nearly 1,400 counties, LISC works with a network of community-based partner organizations to make investments in housing, business, jobs, education, safety, and health.

Open your broadband toolkit

Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance

Virginia’s Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance offers a toolkit, largely developed at Virginia Tech, to help communities develop broadband infrastructure. The toolkit features a five-step process that includes determining your goals and needs, and securing funding.

Retain the unique character of your community with resident participation

Orton Family Foundation

The Orton Family Foundation has a mission to empower people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision-making, creating a shared sense of belonging, and ultimately strengthening the social, cultural, and economic vibrancy of each place. The foundation’s core work involves the Community Heart and Soul method, which encourages residents of small cities and towns to participate in local decision-making in order to uphold the unique character of their communities.

Understanding the Appalachian opioid crisis

NORC at the University of Chicago

NORC at the University of Chicago and the Appalachian Regional Commission have created the Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool to allow users to map overdose hot spots and overlay them with data that provide additional context to opioid addiction and death — including the strength and diversity of local economies, ethnicity, educational attainment, and disability status of residents.

Building communities around places

Project for Public Spaces

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Its Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation, and serve common needs. With community-based participation at its center, an effective Placemaking process capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, and results in the creation of quality public spaces that contribute to people’s health, happiness, and well-being.

Peruse a case study to see what other small towns are up to

The Rural Center

The North Carolina Rural Center – in a publication titled Small Towns, Big Ideas – has produced case studies on small-town economic development. Though nearly 10 years old, the sheer number of town projects profiled makes for illuminating reading.

Find a Small Business Development Center near you

Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. Small Business Development Centers and their private affiliates exist across Virginia to serve entrepreneurs and small businesses through counselling, classes, financial planning, lending assistance, and other services and resources that small businesses need to survive and grow.

Discover how strong towns are building a stronger America

Strong Towns

The mission of Strong Towns is to support a model of development that allows America’s cities, towns, and neighborhoods to become financially strong and resilient. Through written content, weekly podcasts, and interactive webcasts, Strong Towns is focused on providing processes that are adaptable to every community’s unique needs.

Receive advice and assistance for agriculture and community viability

Virginia Cooperative Extension

Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) works closely with communities, businesses, nonprofits and homes to connect university resources and expertise to those who need it in Virginia. VCE provides particular assistance in the fields of agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences (e.g. financial planning and management), 4-H youth development, and community viability (strengthening communities and their economic viability by creating innovative programs that allow citizens and local governments to respond to local issues).

Get financial advice and assistance for your small businesses

Virginia Small Business Financing Authority

The Virginia Small Business Finance Authority (VSBFA) is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s economic development and small business financing arm. It helps Virginia’s existing businesses and those businesses that are seeking to come to Virginia through its extensive portfolio of financing programs. Although VSBFA does not offer grants, it adds value by helping Virginia’s financial institutions offer business loans that they might not be able to offer without VSBFA assistance.

Earn a graduate degree in local government management

Virginia Tech Invent the Future

The Virginia Tech Center for Public Administration and Policy, in partnership with the Virginia Local Government Management Association, provides a graduate certificate program in local government management. The courses are designed to give the next generation of local government managers the tools to advance their careers and develop leadership skills.

View your town through an architect’s eyes

Community Design Assistance Center

Virginia Tech’s Community Design Assistance Center’s track record of projects in Appalachia is vast. Its portfolio includes designing parks and trails as well as assisting with master planning and corridor studies. Student and faculty experts dive into problems, bringing design tools such as landscape architecture to the table. You can apply for planning and design help at the CDAC website.

Learn more about Appalachia at the Virginia Tech Library

Virginia Tech Invent the Future

Virginia Tech’s Newman Library, open to the public, offers (1) items that can be checked out and (2) Special Collections, an array of rare and unique primary source materials available for viewing in the first-floor reading room. Items available for checkout include books, videos, and journals, and online databases also can be accessed. Virginia residents enjoy borrowing privileges and also may use the library’s computers. Items on Appalachia are spread throughout the library, with the exception of the special-collection holdings, which are housed in one place and can only be viewed weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For guidance on your research project, contact Bruce Pencek, 540-231-2140,, or the director of Special Collections, Aaron D. Purcell, 540-231-9672,

Look for expertise and partnership

Office of Economic Development map

The goal of Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development is to connect Virginia Tech faculty, companies, and communities in ways that help create, retain, and enhance the quality of jobs and opportunities around the Commonwealth. The office serves as a resource to businesses and organizations wishing to find expertise within the university. Office staff members act as strategic conveners of university and community personnel and assets in order to determine the best response to any particular economic development need.

Learn details about agritourism in Virginia

Virginia Tech Invent the Future

Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business published a study in April 2017 examining the economic impact of agritourism in Virginia. The study found that the total economic activity stimulated by Virginia’s agritourism sector in 2015 was approximately $2.2 billion, while economic activity attributed to Virginia’s agritourism sector supported approximately 22,151 full-time equivalent jobs in the state.

Help your community’s schools serve children with disabilities

Virginia Tech Invent the Future

Mayors and town managers can help build awareness of the services of Virginia Tech’s Training and Technical Assistance Center. Children with disabilities deserve to learn in the least restrictive school environment, and the center can help with training, consultations, services, research, and library loans. Consult the website or contact Patricia Bickley, 540-231-0809,

For those business plans that need help to plan, launch, and grow


VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, and is headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Help families in your community deal with gay and gender-identity issues

VT Project SMYLE

VT Project SMYLE (Sexual Minority Youth Lived Experiences) is looking to help LGBT youth and families in all of southwestern rural Virginia. Its mission is to improve the psychosocial health & well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender & gender-creative & gender-nonconforming youth & their families. You can read more about the project on their website or by visiting the VT Project SMYLE Facebook page. You can also contact the research team’s leader, Erika L. Grafsky of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, 540-231-6782,

Request a marketing plan from the Virginia Tourism Corporation

Virginia Tourism Corporation

Need help writing a marketing plan for your town? The Virginia Tourism Corporation offers assistance in creating that all-important blueprint that will identify your town’s assets and showcase them to the world. Planning and technical assistance are also available. Contact Randall Rose, 276-322-2044,

Gain more knowledge of regional trends and resources in workforce development


Workforce Development Boards direct federal, state, and local funding to workforce development programs. They also oversee the American Job Centers, where job seekers can get employment information, find out about career development training opportunities and connect to various programs in their area. Visit the website to find your regional WDB.