As part of the Rural Recovery Accelerator, a new community-oriented technical assistance program designed to help rural communities build the economic resiliency strategies they need to survive the current crisis, UWA’s Division of Economic and Workforce Development and the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce seeks community input on community needs post COVID.
The Rural Recovery Accelerator is a new initiative launched by Opportunity Alabama, a statewide 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to connecting communities with capital.
Sumter County was selected from a statewide pool of applicants for the new program, which has already received national attention from Forbes Magazine.
“We were impressed with the capacity Sumter County demonstrated for economic growth, even in the midst of the current national crisis,” said Opportunity Alabama CEO, Alex Flachsbart.
Dr. Tina Jones, Vice president for the Division of Economic and Workforce Development, said, “We are excited to work with Opportunity Alabama and want to encourage the community to complete the survey and strategically target needs. This becomes another tool we can use to move Sumter County forward.”
Rural Recovery Accelerator operates at the county level to foster collaboration between neighboring townships and municipalities. The Sumter County team will meet regularly with Opportunity Alabama staff to address economic resiliency in five key ways: strategy development, data analysis, network development, marketing materials, and investment opportunities. The team already completed its first meeting with Opportunity Alabama and has already identified various projects that show real promise.
Opportunity Alabama (OPAL) is a nonprofit organization that connects Alabama communities and projects to a statewide and national network of impact-oriented investors. Though its primary focus to date has been projects in Opportunity Zones, OPAL has broadened its view to better address the needs of Alabama’s rural and low-income communities. Rural Recovery Accelerator is one of the ways OPAL intends to address those needs.
“We see this moment–where communities are setting aside their differences to work together on recovery–as a chance to put lasting infrastructure in place to improve local economies,” said Alex Flachsbart. “To us, the question is not: how do we reopen over the next 2-3 months? Rather, it is: how do we leverage this moment to build a stronger economic foundation over the next 6-24 months?”
Sumter County is one of six counties statewide selected to participate in the beta version of the Accelerator. Other communities statewide selected to participate in the Accelerator include Butler, Jackson Calhoun, Limestone, and Chambers counties.