The Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) Fellowship program aims to build capacity in economically distressed areas across the U.S. while cultivating the next generation of economic development leaders. The program connects 65 host sites nationwide with diverse practitioners and leaders with the passion, skills, and vision to create new ways of doing economic development.
From over 500 hosts applications, we were honored to be among the 65 host sites selected to receive help in advancing a project critical to the economic recovery of our community. ERC projects represent the interconnectedness between economic development and the pressing needs in communities of all sizes, including workforce development, entrepreneurial ecosystem building, housing, childcare, climate resiliency, broadband, and access to capital. Each project across the U.S. receives a dedicated fellow (fully funded for 2.5 years from the ERC program) who serves as a field catalyst to enhance, strengthen, and coordinate relationships and local efforts alongside the host community. We are thrilled to introduce Will Warren, the Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) Fellow matched with our community to support our project: Uniting Eastern Kentucky Under One Regional Economic Development Action Plan.
The ERC Program has the potential to shift the practice of economic development nationwide in an unprecedented manner. Will’s role will be pivotal in developing a better playbook for the region to attract more meaningful economic development projects. He will be living and working in our community for the next 2.5 years, so please give him a warm welcome to our area!
Meet Our New Economic Recovery Corps Fellow
Will is excited to work directly with the region’s leaders and organizations and be a small part of the region’s bright future ahead. As a native, he is well aware of the incredible opportunities the region possesses and looks forward to utilizing his skills and knowledge to uplift Appalachia’s unique assets and help identify unified development processes and systems.
Read Will’s background and learn more about the project he will be helping us with: Economic Recovery Corps Fellows
“Uniting Eastern Kentucky Under One Regional Economic Development Action Plan” project seeks to address economic challenges resulting from the coal industry’s decline with a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy across Eastern Kentucky. The ERC Fellow’s role is to conduct rigorous economic research and outreach, collaborate with and engage local stakeholders, and unify regional development plans and economic priorities for 54 Appalachian counties. The project requires a deep understanding of the region’s unique history, culture, and opportunities in order to develop tools and facilitate events to empower community-driven economic growth. The end goal is a universally-endorsed plan for Eastern Kentucky’s economic revival and ensuring the benefits of planning and development are equitably distributed throughout the region.
Launched in 2023 through a $30 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the ERC Fellowship is designed to build capacity in some of the hardest-hit and most economically distressed areas across the United States while cultivating the next generation of economic development leaders.
The ERC Program matched 65 Host sites nationwide with a dedicated Fellow, fully funded for 2.5 years, who will act as a field catalyst to build, strengthen, and coordinate relationships and local efforts alongside their host community. The first cohort of Fellows and Host sites represents practitioners and leaders with the passion, skills, and vision to advance new ways of doing economic development.
With 65 Fellows at Host Sites located across 44 states and territories, projects represent an exciting cross-section of rural, urban, and tribal communities. Hosts reflect the entire community and economic development field spectrum, from city and county government to regional coalitions, economic development organizations, economic development districts (EDDs), and entrepreneurial support organizations.
The ERC is funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) under the CARES Act and led by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in partnership with six leading national organizations:
- Center on Rural Innovation (CORI)
- International City/County Management Association (ICMA)
- National Association of Counties Research Foundation (NACo RF)
- National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation (NADO RF)
- National League of Cities Institute (NLCI)
- RAIN Catalysts
For More Information
Learn more about the ERC program and the various projects across the US and stay up to date on the ERC’s happenings by signing up for updates here.