EPA to help Kentuckians improve health, environment and revitalize local economy
Atlanta, Ga. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced that Powell County, Kentucky is one of ten communities selected to participate in the Healthy Places for Healthy People planning assistance program. Healthy Places for Healthy People is a new initiative that helps communities leverage health care facilities to foster downtown revitalization and economic growth, improve health and protect the environment.
In many communities, health care facilities can be catalysts for economic development, while investment in existing neighborhoods can improve walkability, protect air and water quality, encourage cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties, and conserve open spaces and natural resources.
“Healthy Places for Healthy People will help Appalachia’s smaller towns integrate community health clinics and centers into their visions for long lasting economic development,” said Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chairman Earl Gohl. “Healthcare providers, businesses, and institutions all have a role to play in our Region’s sustainable economic future.”
“It is our goal to improve the health of our community by a project that reflects our regional culture and history of people relying on the land,” said Jodie Brandenburg, Director of Health & Human Services for the Kentucky River Foothills Development Council. “This innovative project will include a farmer’s market, a community garden, and life skills classes taught by instructors indigenous to the area.”
Through Healthy Places for Healthy People, a team of experts will help community members and health care facility partners develop strategies and an action plan to address persistent needs, such as better health, improved public safety, basic infrastructure, and jobs. Partner organizations include community health centers (including Federally Qualified Health Centers), nonprofit hospitals, and other health care facilities.
The Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, which operates a Federally Qualified Health Center, and its partners will work together on the Healthy Powell County effort to create walking trails, community gardens, and transportation options to improve health, economic, and environmental outcomes in the communities throughout the county.
EPA support for Healthy Places for Healthy People is provided through the Office of Sustainable Communities, which promotes locally led, community-driven solutions that protect human health and the environment and strengthen local economies.
Support for Healthy Places for Healthy People also comes from the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.