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Smart Growth

Cool & Connected

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Cool and Connected partner communities shown on a mapCool and Connected Partner Communities. Click on the map to enlarge.Cool & Connected is a planning assistance program that helps 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. 

Communities can combine broadband service with other local assets such as cultural and recreational amenities to attract investment and people, including young people, and diversify local economies.

Cool & Connected is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service, EPA, 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.

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Community Stories

Learn more about some of the Cool & Connected partner communities.

  • Erwin, Tennessee: Listen to a podcast with Erwin residents Exit 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.
  • Millinocket, Maine: Listen to a podcast with Millinocket residents Exit discussing how Millinocket is recovering from losing a major employer that anchored the town for over a century by pairing improved broadband internet access with a focus on downtown revitalization.

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Fall 2016 Partner Communities

Partner communities selected from the Fall 2016 application period are:

  • Eastport, Maine, which will use broadband to attract teleworkers, give community residents new opportunities, and boost small businesses on Main Street.
  • Millinocket, Maine, and the community organization Our Katahdin, which will get more residents connected digitally and leverage broadband service for downtown revitalization and potential reuse of the Millinocket Mill site.
  • Carrizozo, New Mexico, a historic crossroads community, which will take advantage of fiber optic service to bring new residents and economic opportunity to its 15-block Metropolitan Redevelopment Area.
  • Lakeville, Indiana, which will work to make 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, which will use broadband and information technologies to support small businesses, including local foods and craft sellers, and plan new ways to bring visitors into town.
  • Clarksville, Arkansas, which will partner with Clarksville Light & Water and University of the Ozarks to expand broadband and Wi-Fi service and plan new, centrally located student housing and economic opportunities.
  • Edenton, North Carolina, which has a nationally historic Main Street district, and which will work to make internet access and Wi-Fi available to more members of the community and support downtown businesses and activities.

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Appalachia Partner Communities

The Appalachia partner communities, announced in August 2016, are:

  • Haleyville, Alabama, which will pursue a downtown broadband strategy that promotes business recruitment and development, diversifies the economy, and connects the library and city hall to people through digital archives and e-government initiatives.
  • Portsmouth, Ohio, where the Southern Ohio Port Authority aims 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.
  • Zanesville, Ohio, which will receive planning assistance to increase new employment opportunities, support the emerging arts culture, and develop an app for visitors to explore the walkable downtown.
  • Clarion, Pennsylvania, which will receive planning assistance to increase 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, where the Curwensville Regional Development Corporation plans to create a downtown coworking space for professionals, students, or entrepreneurs to use as an alternative to working from home or commuting long distances.
  • Erwin, Tennessee, and Erwin Utilities, which will receive planning assistance to construct a comprehensive marketing plan for the downtown broadband connection to attract young professionals, visitors, and investors.
  • Jonesville and Pennington Gap, Virginia, which will receive planning assistance to market and develop Wi-Fi zones, extend broadband service, and promote Main Street development by attracting anchor tenants.
  • Bluefield, West Virginia, which will help 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, where the Mary H. Weir Public Library and community partners will receive planning assistance to increase and expand broadband services and Wi-Fi zones to bring visitors, families, and businesses to the downtown.
  • Williamson, West Virginia, where the Williamson Health and Wellness Center will 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.

Read the summary report about the Appalachia partner communities.

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Pilot-Phase Partner Communities

The pilot-phase partner communities are:

  • Georgetown, Delaware, which will explore strategies to leverage new broadband infrastructure serving county facilities to provide public internet access and to attract and retain businesses downtown.
  • Leon, Iowa, which will develop 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, which will combine 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, which will use its new broadband network to support business and tourism downtown that will build on Vision: Toledo, a grassroots coalition of people committed to community revitalization.
  • Tullahoma, Tennessee, which will receive technical assistance to market downtown Tullahoma as a free Wi-Fi zone and develop a physical work-share space to complement new infrastructure investments and add to the growth of downtown businesses.

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