EDA Competitive Recreation Funding Hub

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In 2021, ORR worked to ensure funding for outdoor recreation as part of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) American Rescue Plan funding. This effort was rewarded when EDA announced $750 million in funding for Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation projects, helping grow the recreation economy nationwide. $510 million of this funding was distributed in the form of state block grants, while $240 million is being distributed as competitive grants.

From this pool of competitive grant funding, ORR is highlighting the recreation-specific projects that EDA has chosen to fund. These recreation projects are generating wide-ranging positive impacts across the United States, including rural economic development, new recreation infrastructure, public health, and equitable access for all communities.  This list will be updated as new awards are announced.

Totals (Updated 6/24):

  • $27,415,835 in direct EDA funding

  • $16,683,207 in local investment

  • $44,099,042 total

Campus Enhancement Plan for the Homer Society of Natural History (Pratt Museum)

Homer/Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

$85,491, matched by $26,174 in local investment

Guide investment in and development of the Pratt Museum’s 10-acre parcel and fund the design for an ADA-accessible, covered outdoor amphitheater and pavilion. The museum is located in the City of Homer, Alaska, which serves remote communities accessible only by rugged road, boat, or plane, including Alaska Native villages located on remote coastline and secluded Russian Old Believer communities. Homer is the economic, education, health care, and cultural hub in the area, and it is one of the most important maritime harbors in the state. Once completed, the project is expected to encourage a dynamic downtown center to help assist in the region’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and make it more resilient to fluctuations in tourism, which will help increase employment opportunities, save jobs, spur private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region.

Supports: General outdoor recreation, Accessibility

Cedar River Recreational Project

City of Cedar Falls, Cedar Falls/Black Hawk County, Iowa

$1,500,000, matched by $3,331,450 in local investment

Construct a series of six jetties on both sides of the Cedar River in Cedar Falls, Iowa, improving the safety of a low head dam and changing the bank stabilization. The project will help Cedar Falls address the local and regional need for expanded riverfront tourism by improving river access infrastructure to support in-stream users interested in floating and paddling and on-bank users interesting in picnicking, playing, and angling. The economic impact of these increased outdoor recreation and tourism activities will support local businesses and business expansion, and create jobs and private investment, which will advance economic resiliency throughout the region. The grantee estimates that this investment will help create 129 jobs and leverage $295,000 in private investment.

Supports: River recreation

Expansion of Port Town Landing Pier   

Town of St. George, Tenants Harbor/Knox County, Maine

$3,851,084, matched by $962,771 in local investment

Support the expansion of the Port Clyde town landing pier, to provide vehicle maneuvering room, and make miscellaneous improvements including, wheel stops, electric power and water to the floating docks, adding hydraulic hoists for catch/cargo, and installing facility lighting in Knox County, Maine. The Port Clyde Landing represents one of the only public facilities in the region that provides access for recreational boating, commercial fishing, and tourism related activities, all of which are key components of the local and regional economy. Once completed, the project will assist in the region’s recovery and make it more resilient to fluctuations in tourism, which will help increase employment opportunities, save jobs, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region. The grantee estimates that this investment will help create 15 jobs and save 151 jobs.

Supports: Boating Infrastructure, Economic Development

Tailout Trail, Tom Lee Park

City of Memphis, Memphis/Shelby County, Tennessee

$3,731,439, matched by $6,088,137 in local investment

The Tailout Trail, will be one-of-a-kind, inviting visitors up and (during high water) over river habitat for spectacular views of the Mississippi, the Arkansas floodplain and the more than 325 bird species. The project will draw national attention and support to Memphis and is expected to bring thousands of new visitors to the riverfront. These visitors will have a significant impact on nearby restaurants, music venues and hotels. Once completed, the Tailout Trail will be a major focal point for eco-tourism in Memphis, spawning new small businesses associated with river touring, biking, and hiking, which will help increase employment opportunities, spur private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region. The grantees estimate that this investment will help leverage $2,800,000 in private investment.

Supports: Trail Activities, River Touring, Biking, Hiking, Economic Development

New multi-use path (bicycle and pedestrian) through Southbridge, Massachusetts

Town of Southbridge, Southbridge/Worcester County, Massachusetts

$2,623,625, matched by $1,500,000 in local investment

The Quinebaug Valley Rail Trail will expand upon the existing tourism industry in the region, as the trail will traverse downtown Southbridge and parallel to existing commercial corridors. By linking trails and businesses, the project will help boost the local economy in Southbridge and the region, which will help increase employment opportunities, spur private investment, and advance economic resiliency in the area. The grantee estimates that this investment will help create 45 jobs, save 25 jobs, and leverage $3,300,000 in private investment.

Supports: Trail Activities, Economic Development

Trail infrastructure improvements to the Jack A. Markell Trail in Delaware

New Castle County, New Castle/New Castle County, Delaware

$822,800, matched by $205,700 in local investment

The project elements include grading, erosion and sedimentation control, paved surface replacement, landscaping, signage, and appurtenances, to improve access to outdoor recreation along the trail. In addition, improvements will include the demolition and removal of existing paved surfaces, which will be replaced with new and green infrastructure for stormwater management and streetscape vegetation, to provide new accessible paved surfaces, curbing, and ADA-accessible walkways. Once completed, the project will enhance the visitor experience in New Castle, which will assist in the area’s recovery and make it more resilient to fluctuations in tourism and advance economic resiliency throughout the region. The grantee estimates that this investment will help create 15 jobs and save 30 jobs.

Supports: Trail Activities, Economic Development

Support the planning and future construction of a riverfront street to redevelop downtown Soldotna in Alaska

City of Soldotna, Soldotna/Kenai Peninsula County, Alaska

$360,000, matched by $90,000 in local investment

The City of Soldotna has experienced significant job loss over the years and the project will allow Soldotna to leverage the region’s fishing and tourism industries by providing infrastructure on vacant and underutilized lands for developments of parks, streets, trails, etc. for business revitalization. These improvements will foster new private capital investment, partnerships, and job creation, while bolstering activity for existing businesses and improving the quality of the built environment for residents and visitors. Once completed, the project will assist in the region’s recovery and make it more resilient to fluctuations in tourism, which will advance economic resiliency throughout the region.

Supports: Fishing and Tourism, Trail Activities, Economic Development

Blackstone River Bikeway connecting Pawtucket and National Park Services Slater Mill Historic Park and the existing Blackstone Bikeway path

City of Pawtucket, Pawtucket/Providence County, Rhode Island

$4,812,600, matched by $1,357,400 in local investment

The project will also connect to a new Tidewater Landing mixed-use brownfields redevelopment anchored with an 11,000-seat United Soccer League soccer stadium and the Armory Arts District and other recreational resources in the city. The project will help addresses economic harm to the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industry due to the coronavirus pandemic by increasing economic opportunity and creating jobs in the travel, leisure, and hospitality sectors. Once completed, the project will assist in the region’s recovery and make it more resilient to fluctuations in tourism, which will help increase employment opportunities, save jobs, spur private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region. The grantee estimates that this investment will help create 538 jobs and leverage $284,100,000 in private investment.

Supports: Bike Activities, Economic Development

Support water infrastructure improvements to develop the Greylock Glen Resort in Berkshire County, Massachusetts 

Town of Adams, Adams/Berkshire County, Massachusetts

$2,894,500, matched by $1,240,500 in local investment

The town has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the development of this facility will significantly expand tourism and outdoor recreational opportunities in the area. The county relies on arts, entertainment, and recreation, as well as accommodation and food services to support a strong economy in its region. The project will help drive business back to the hospitality and tourism community, to enhance economic impact and reestablish tourism as the number one economic driver in the county. Once completed, the project will assist in the region’s recovery and make it more resilient to fluctuations in tourism, which will help increase employment opportunities, spur private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region. The grantee estimates that this investment will help create 476 jobs and leverage $42,000,000 in private investment.

Supports: Water Infrastructure, Economic Development

Build 60-acre recreational vehicle (RV) campground at the wildlife conservation center to help attract tourists to 10,000-acre park

Cumberland/Guernsey County, Ohio

$2,155,616, matched by $700,000 in local investment

Support the International Center for the Preservation of Wild Animals (The Wilds) in Ohio, with building a 60-acre recreational vehicle (RV) campground at the wildlife conservation center to help attract tourists to 10,000-acre park, which is located on reclaimed coal mine land along the Appalachian Byway. Throughout its history, the Guernsey County region relied on coal mining, and The Wilds facility was built on recovered coal mine land. The ongoing decline of the coal industry, together with sudden job losses and business closures, devastated the region’s economy in recent years. The RV campground will help the region recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and will drive economic activity, diversification, and resilience in the region’s growing tourism economy. The grantee estimates that this investment will help create 100 jobs, save 25 jobs, and leverage $500,000 in private investment.

Supports: RV Infrastructure, Economic Development

Support the National Ability Center (NAC) with addressing the local and regional need for outdoor recreation programs and equipment for people with disabilities in Park City, Utah

Park City/Summit County, Utah

$371,678, matched by $92,920 in local investment

By increasing the number of programs and activities offered, hiring additional staff and instructors, and increasing equipment, NAC will be able to offer over 2,000 additional lessons throughout the year, which will increase equitable access to outdoor recreation and tourism activities in the region. Once completed, the project will assist in the region’s recovery and make it more resilient to fluctuations in tourism, which will help increase employment opportunities, save jobs, spur private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region. The grantee estimates that this investment will help create 14 jobs.

Supports: Disabled Access, Economic Development

Support development of the Mariposa Creek Trailhead and Destination Park

Mariposa County, Mariposa/Mariposa County, California

$671,500, matched by $200,000 in local investment

Support the long-term recovery of tourism in the county through expansion of recreational opportunities designed to make the county a year-round destination for visitors. The project will help businesses that rely on tourism in the area become more resilient to seasonal economic downturns and systemic shocks such as the coronavirus pandemic, which will help increase employment opportunities, spur private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region.

Supports: Trail Activities, Economic Development

Fund the Grand County Tourism Revitalization Project, to support the recovery and resilience of Grand County’s tourism and outdoor recreation economy  

Grand County, Hot Sulphur Springs/Grand County, Colorado

$400,000, matched by $100,000 in local investment

The project will help the county extend the current summer and winter tourism seasons year-round and diversify the tourism sector by highlighting often overlooked tourist and outdoor reaction attractions in Colorado. By doing this, more stable, year-round jobs will be created, new business opportunities will arise to fill the gap of those that closed during the coronavirus pandemic and struggling businesses will receive needed support and promotion to grow. Once completed, the project will help increase employment opportunities, spur private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region.

Supports: Economic Development

Support the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation (BRPF) with establishing a strategic planning process to help engage community leaders in all 12 Virginia Blue Ridge Parkway counties

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, North Carolina

$393,193, matched by $102,689 in local investment

The BRPF will work alongside community leaders in each county to examine the Blue Ridge Parkway as a community asset and identify strategies to grow travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation in rural and underserved communities. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt all along the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor in Virginia and this project will assist in the region’s recovery and make it more resilient to fluctuations in tourism, which will help increase employment opportunities, spur private investment, and promote the economic resilience of regions dependent on the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries.

Supports: Economic Development

Support the development of its new outdoor recreation trail plan

Slayton/Murray County, Minnesota

$167,198, matched by $41,800 in local investment

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Southwest Minnesota region suffered devastating job losses and business closures. The project will conduct a study and analyses of the populations engaging in outdoor recreation and current community outreach efforts to assist the region in increasing tourism activity in the area. Once completed, the project will help the region become more resilient to fluctuations in tourism and capitalize outdoor recreation assets, which will help increase employment opportunities and spur private investment throughout the region.

Supports: Trail Activities, Economic Development

Support development of the Western Upper Peninsula Tourism Economic Impact Analysis, to help regional leaders better-understand how to capitalize on tourism and outdoor recreation as a regional economic driver in Hancock, Michigan

Hancock/Houghton County, Michigan

$119,913, matched by $29,979 in local investment

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the region’s tourism industry but also created demand and opportunities in outdoor recreation for the region. Once completed, the project will help the region respond to damage to the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors from the coronavirus pandemic, which will enhance future economic sustainability, strengthen the regional economy, and bolster economic resiliency throughout the region.

Supports: Economic Development

Fund the Frost Fire Park Snowmaking Infrastructure Improvement and Expansion Project

Walhalla/Pembina County, North Dakota

$2,170,488, matched by $542,622 in local investment

Update infrastructure that will improve the quality and longevity of the winter sports activities in the park. The project will support Pembina Gorge Foundation with addressing the local and regional need for expanded and resilient tourism and outdoor recreation activities in the park. Once completed, the project will have direct economic impact on the park’s operations, particularly its winter sports season and other activities, which will drive and expand its business, increase employment opportunities, save jobs, spur private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region. The grantee estimates that this investment will help create 23 jobs.

Supports: Winter Sports, Economic Development

Support Triangle J Council of Governments with conducting a corridor feasibility and economic impact analysis to determine how to best leverage the Haw River to drive economic recovery within the travel and tourism sectors and facilitate economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

Durham/Durham County, North Carolina

$284,260, matched by $71,065 in local investment

Additionally, the analysis will identify ways to capitalize on gaps and expand economic and community development opportunities, to help enhance economic impact and reestablish tourism as the number one economic driver in the area. Once completed, the project will assist in the region’s recovery and make it more resilient to fluctuations in tourism, which will help increase employment opportunities, save jobs, spur private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region. The grantees estimate that this investment will help create 15 jobs and leverage $30,000 in private investment.

Supports: River Activities, Economic Development