Highland EDA Is Seeking a Fellow to Work in the Economic Recovery Corps Program


Highland County has been chosen to participate in the Economic Recovery Corps program.  Highland was one of 65 communities selected from around the country from over 500 applicants.  A fellow from the program will be placed in each community to carry out economic development work.

Betty Mitchell has more.  She is the Economic Development Officer for the Highland County Economic Development Authority.

“This program is called the Economic Recovery Corps and it came out of the pandemic,” says Mitchell.  “It’s a pilot project that will be placing early to mid-career folks who are interested in economic development for a region, both rural and urban, that have had a hard time accessing opportunities that have come about as a result of the pandemic.  Some of the funding opportunities.”

A fellow from the program working in Highland would help implement the Rural Community Development Initiative Strategic Plan.  The plan outlines community and economic development work.  The RCDI group that created the plan is made up of the EDA, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Council and The Highland Center.

“This is a paid fellowship and it’s a well-paid position,” says Mitchell.  “Anyone interested would need to apply by the 15th of August and they would start in January of 2024.  It’s a 30 month program, so they would go through June of 2026.  So, two and a half years is quite a bit of time to get a lot done in a community with someone who’s focused solely on community and economic development work.”

Fellows are paid directly through the Economic Recovery Corps program, so there is no cost to the community.

“We’ve moved up to the next level, which is to try to help identify a fellow who could serve our community or, in some cases, it might be a collaboration depending on other communities close by that could be served jointly by one fellow,” says Mitchell.  “The next steps would be the fellows have to apply by August 15 and after that time they’ll know how many people have applied and start, kind of, the matchmaking process.  Obviously, its going to be something that we would have a chance to interview fellows and they would have a chance to interview their communities.  Since it’s nationwide it’s really hard to know, and the first time, what will emerge as far as people who are interested until that matchmaking process takes place.”

Candidates should have economic development interest or economic development experience, be a people person, have great organizational skills, be a self-starter and have knowledge of rural areas.  Also, grant writing and grant management experience is a plus, as well as having experience working with private donors.

“They’ll really be a catalyst working with the local leaders in the community and to try to activate strategies that we’ve already thought about and put them in place,” says Mitchell.  “And it will be a 30 month timeframe to get that done.  So, lots of capacity building and systems that could be set up to carry on, once they no longer are in the program.”

For more information visit www.economicrecoverycorps.org

To learn more about the specific Highland County projects email  highlandeda@htcnet.org  or call 540-383-9415.

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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