Revitalizing Appalachia: New Directions for Philanthropy

Back in March, I had the privilege of making a presentation on new economic development trends to the Appalachian Funders Network, a coalition of leading foundations who invest in regional development in Appalachia.   A new report that summarizes the gathering has just been released.

During my time in Berea, Kentucky,  I pitched them on the promise of investing more in the development of high-growth oriented entrepreneurs.  My talk resonated with some folks, but I’ll admit that for many others, we’ve agreed to disagree.  The Gathering’s Proceedings Paper does a very good job of summarizing the key issues.  It does an even better job of presenting some new strategies for supporting entrepreneurs and building community capacity in Appalachia.  The Appalachian Funders Network is now working to implement two very promising initiatives:

1) Startup Appalachia:  A region-wide network to align funders around efforts to support entrepreneurial development related to the food, energy, and health care sectors.

2) The Food Systems Working Group:  A coaliton that is supporting the development of healthy local food systems in Appalachia.

Both efforts are now underway and are poised to build important new networks and connections across Appalachia.

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