Cool & Connected
- Community Stories
- 2016 Partner Communities
- Appalachia Partner Communities
- Pilot-Phase Partner Communities
Cool & Connected was a planning assistance program that helped community members develop strategies and an action plan for using broadband to create walkable, connected, economically vibrant main streets and small-town neighborhoods that improve human health and the environment.
In this program, communities combined broadband service with other local assets, such as cultural and recreational amenities, to attract investment and people, including young people, and diversify local economies.
The Cool & Connected program was sponsored by EPA's Office of Community Revitalization, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service, and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
See our Smart Growth in Small Towns and Rural Communities page to learn more about how smart growth strategies can help rural places strengthen their economies, improve quality of life, and protect the environment and human health.
In the Cool & Connected program, EPA, USDA Rural Utilities Service, and the Appalachian Regional Commission worked with partner communities to create action plans grounded in broadband use that would achieve multiple goals, including revitalizing downtowns, creating economic opportunities, and protecting the environment. Read the Nine Actions for Success that have come out of our work with small towns.
Case studies were developed for the following Cool & Connected partner communities:
- Erwin, Tennessee: Listen to a podcast with Erwin residents discussing how the town is transitioning from a railroad-centered town to a 21st century, broadband-connected community by investing in reliable, high-speed internet and using that new broadband access to attract development to its walkable, historic downtown.
- Lakeville, Indiana: Read a case study, including lessons learned, on how Cool & Connected helped Lakeville plan to use its broadband in its revitalization efforts.
- Millinocket, Maine:
- Read a case study, including lessons learned, on how Cool & Connected helped Millinocket plan for community revitalization.
- Listen to a podcast with Millinocket residents discussing how Millinocket is recovering from losing a major employer that anchored the town for over a century by pairing improved internet access with a focus on downtown revitalization.
Seven partner communities received planning assistance in 2016-2017:
- Eastport, Maine developed a strategy to leverage broadband to attract teleworkers, give community residents new opportunities, and boost small businesses on Main Street.
- Millinocket, Maine planned to connect residents digitally and use broadband service for downtown revitalization and potential reuse of the Millinocket Mill site, working with partner organization Our Katahdin.
- Carrizozo, New Mexico focused on taking advantage of fiber optic service to bring new residents and economic opportunity to its 15-block Metropolitan Redevelopment Area for this historic crossroads community.
- Lakeville, Indiana created a plan to expand high-capacity broadband service available to residents and businesses and take advantage of new transportation investments to build a walkable and economically successful downtown.
- George West, Texas strategized on using broadband and information technologies to support small businesses, including local foods and craft sellers, and planning new ways to bring visitors into town.
- Clarksville, Arkansas partnered with Clarksville Light & Water and University of the Ozarks to discuss the expansion of broadband and Wi-Fi service and plan new, centrally located student housing and economic opportunities.
- Edenton, North Carolina planned to leverage a nationally historic Main Street district, make internet access and Wi-Fi available to more members of the community, and support downtown businesses and activities.
Ten communities in Appalachia received planning assistance in 2016:
- Haleyville, Alabama pursued a downtown broadband strategy that promoted business recruitment and development, diversified the economy, and connected the library and city hall to people through digital archives and e-government initiatives.
- Portsmouth, Ohio aimed to use the historic and commercial districts’ broadband and public Wi-Fi to encourage more people to walk and open businesses, as well as connect downtown amenities to recreation areas with information kiosks and QR Code/smart phone technology, in partnership with the Southern Ohio Port Authority.
- Zanesville, Ohio focused on increasing new employment opportunities, supporting the emerging arts culture, and developing an app for visitors to explore the walkable downtown.
- Clarion, Pennsylvania planned for increasing its local communications capacity to market nature-based tourism, motivate people to invest along the historic Main Street, and create an incentive for students at Clarion University to stay in the community.
- Curwensville, Pennsylvania worked with the Curwensville Regional Development Corporation to plan for a downtown coworking space for professionals, students, or entrepreneurs to use as an alternative to working from home or commuting long distances.
- Erwin, Tennessee worked with Erwin Utilities to construct a comprehensive marketing plan for the downtown broadband connection to attract young professionals, visitors, and investors.
- Jonesville and Pennington Gap, Virginia planned for the marketing and development of Wi-Fi zones, extending broadband service, and promoting Main Street development by attracting anchor tenants.
- Bluefield, West Virginia helped downtown businesses take advantage of broadband and promote startups under the city's new Creating Resilient Economies by Assisting Transforming Entrepreneurs (CREATE) initiative.
- Weirton, West Virginia worked with the Mary H. Weir Public Library and community partners to increase and expand broadband services and Wi-Fi zones to bring visitors, families, and businesses to the downtown.
- Williamson, West Virginia planned to leverage broadband access and Wi-Fi zones downtown and at educational institutions to cultivate a skilled workforce, help people open businesses, and enhance the use of health care technology, in partnerships with the Williamson Health and Wellness Center.
Five communities received planning assistance in the pilot round of the Cool & Connected program:
- Georgetown, Delaware explored strategies to leverage new broadband infrastructure serving county facilities to provide public internet access and to attract and retain businesses downtown.
- Leon, Iowa developed a strategy for implementing a free Wi-Fi zone in its downtown square to draw more economic activity and provide low-income residents with internet access.
- Montrose, Colorado combined its new broadband service with other downtown assets (including a farmers market), to promote local food access, accelerate main street development, and attract visitors.
- Toledo, Washington used its new broadband network to support business and tourism downtown to build on Vision: Toledo, a grassroots coalition of people committed to community revitalization.
- Tullahoma, Tennessee marketed its downtown as a free Wi-Fi zone and developed a physical work-share space to complement new infrastructure investments and add to the growth of downtown businesses.