Asheville, N.C., Among 22 Communities Selected Nationally to Receive EPA Assistance to Advance Sustainability Goals and Foster Economic Development

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ATLANTA -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that Asheville, N.C., is among 22 communities selected to receive technical assistance to pursue development strategies that support smart growth and sustainability goals and encourage local economic development. EPA selected this year’s recipients from among 121 applicants to the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. EPA staff and national experts will conduct one to two-day workshops in the communities that focus on the specific sustainability tool each community requested in its application to EPA.

'Many communities are seeking EPA’s assistance to think through how and where they will grow – while protecting the environment and helping members of the community most in need,” said Joel Beauvais, associate administrator for EPA's Office of Policy. 'Our Building Blocks program brings the technical know-how to help communities overcome the barriers to sustainable growth so they can plan for a healthier, more vibrant future.'

The agency is offering five tools this year: Bikeshare Planning, Equitable Development, Infill Development for Distressed Cities, Sustainable Strategies for Small Cities and Rural Areas, and Flood Resilience for Riverine and Coastal Communities. Using the equitable development tool, EPA will help Asheville advance planning and community engagement investments in the East of the Riverway area by engaging with neighborhoods challenged by gentrification as the riverfront becomes a focal area for the arts, entertainment and outdoor recreation.

EPA also selected the following communities, located in 17 other states: Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, La.; Canton, Miss.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Damariscotta, Maine; Danville, Ill.; Fresno, Calif.; Marysville, Wash.; Mobile, Ala.; Nederland, Colo.; New Paltz, N.Y.; Newburyport, Mass; Passaic County, N.J.; Polk County, Iowa; Prichard, Ala.; Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Wis.; Santa Ynez Band of Chamash Indians, Calif; Scituate, Mass; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Steamboat Springs, Colo.; and Terre Haute, Ind.

Since 2011, the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program has provided assistance to 130 communities in 41 states. As a result of this assistance, community groups, local governments, and tribal governments across the nation have increased their capacity to successfully implement smart growth and sustainable approaches that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity, prepare for the effects of climate change, and improve overall quality of life.

EPA will conduct the planned workshops in coordination with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Through the Partnership, EPA, HUD, and DOT work together to coordinate investments in housing, transportation, and environmental protection to get better results for communities and use taxpayer money more efficiently.

More information on the Building Blocks program: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/buildingblocks.htm

More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/partnership/index.html

Connect with EPA Region 4 on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eparegion4

And on Twitter: @EPASoutheast

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