Riding the rapids in the Kentucky Wildlands.

The Kentucky Wildlands is becoming a brand that is garnering some attention.

And this week, Eastern Kentucky PRIDE became the recipient of a $1.2 million Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Power Grant to help spread the news about the new initiative.

"This grant will allow us to further develop The Kentucky Wildlands Initiative. We will be continuing our marketing campaign as well as expanding our training programs," said Tammie Nazario, PRIDE President and CEO. "We are grateful to the ARC for this investment in the people and economy of southern and eastern Kentucky."

The Kentucky Wildlands is a regional tourism marketing initiative that showcases the region's majestic natural beauty and rich heritage with the goal of driving economic development. Components of the initiative include a media campaign, hospitality education, itinerary development and entrepreneur training. The initiative was launched by Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, Inc., which is a nonprofit organization, with grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Economic Development Administration.

"For 25 years now, PRIDE has partnered with communities to clean up solid waste and water quality problems, and now we are unified in marketing our great outdoors and deep heritage as a regional tourist destination — The Kentucky Wildlands," Nazario said. "The ARC funds will allow us to promote this regional brand and support communities in building their tourism economies."

The Kentucky Wildlands marketing initiative covers 41 counties in eastern and southern Kentucky.

This award is part of a recently announced $21 million package supporting 21 projects serving 211 coal-impacted counties through ARC's POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. POWER targets federal resources to communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries.

"I commend Eastern Kentucky PRIDE for innovating and collaborating to grow opportunities for people in their own community and neighboring communities," said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. "Partners like Eastern Kentucky PRIDE are integral to making our POWER projects come to life, and I look forward to seeing the ways our Appalachian Region continues to grow, thanks to the impact of their work."

Over $4.5 million of the ARC Power Grant money will go to recipients in U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers' 5th Congressional District.

"These investments will have a far reach across southern and eastern Kentucky, creating 280 new jobs, preparing 630 students for college credentials or diplomas, and building a stronger region with better healthcare, a better workforce, more tourism opportunities, and preparing the next generation of leaders," said Rogers. "I applaud the ARC for continuing to invest in projects that are revitalizing our communities and paving the way for a brighter future in Kentucky's Appalachian region."

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