Thrive Regional Partnership Announces Round Two Of Thriving Communities Initiative

Monday, December 11, 2017
The Thrive Regional Partnership and the Lyndhurst Foundation have announced the four participating communities in round two of the Thriving Communities Initiative. The program combines design-thinking and creative placemaking principles, and will launch in January, 2018. The selected volunteer teams from Athens, Decatur, and Whitwell, Tn., and Fort Oglethorpe, were announced at the Thrive Regional Partnership's annual celebration luncheon on Tuesday, Dec. 5. 

The 10-month program, facilitated by local Chattanooga firm Bridge Innovate, will introduce a design thinking process for these teams to develop economic growth strategies that utilize and build upon their local arts and culture assets.
Upon successful completion of the course, each participating community will be eligible to receive up to $20,000 in funding from the Lyndhurst Foundation to implement a tangible arts and culture project identified through the course.

"We are so excited to be able to offer this innovative program to four more of our region's communities," said Bridgett Massengill, president and CEO of the Thrive Regional Partnership. "The successes that our first round of communities achieved in building upon their arts and culture assets are still being felt all across the region. We feel confident that the four new teams will build upon that success in profound ways."

The first round of Thriving Communities, which took place in the winter, spring and fall of 2016, has sparked over $1.6 million in direct and in-kind community investments and engaged over 1,800 of the region's citizens as donors and volunteers. Among the projects that emerged from the first round are a new band shell in Chatsworth, Georgia's city park; Cleveland, Tennessee's downtown Back Alley Galleries; and a brand new permanent outdoor performing arts space in Dalton, Georgia called Burr Park. The park is being built with a donation of $1 million from local citizen Jeanne Burr, a donation of the land by the City of Dalton, and contributions from numerous other partners from the Dalton area.

"Without the Thrive Regional Partnership and the Lyndhurst Foundation, Rossville would not have any of the success that we have had in the past 18 months," said Elizabeth Wells, co-founder of the Rossville Redevelopment Workshop, which has spurred $80,000 of investments in the city park where the historic John Ross house sits. "Our Thriving Communities project has sparked a surge of community will and financial investment that previously felt unachievable."

This year's round of Thriving Communities attracted eight applications for four open slots. The applications were judged on five core criteria: community need, community engagement, strength and professional diversity of the proposed team, local support, and focus on arts and culture. Applications were reviewed and selected by a committee of arts, community development, philanthropy, and design thinking professionals from the tristate region and the Southeast.

"We are thrilled to have received applications from across the region from so many interested communities. This program is time-intensive and relies heavily on volunteers," said Kathleen Nolte, program officer with the Lyndhurst Foundation. "We deeply value the commitment each community has made for the coming year. This was a highly competitive process and we look forward to working with these four new communities and building on their arts and cultural assets."

The newly selected communities expressed excitement at being given the chance to participate in the program. "We are so excited to have this opportunity," said Mayor Linda Hooper of Whitwell. "We just love our city, but we need the help getting our community around how to develop the great things that we have."

The Thrive Regional Partnership thanks the following organizations for providing their inspiration and expertise for its Thriving Communities:
Chattanooga Design Studio
Chattanooga Symphony and Opera
Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia
Georgia Council for the Arts
Northwest Georgia Regional Commission
Rossville Redevelopment Workshop
Southeast Tennessee Development
Southern Adventist University
Tennessee Arts Commission
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

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