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Muskingum University Receives Appalachian Collegiate Research Initiative Grant

For the second year in a row, Muskingum University received the Appalachian Collegiate Research Initiative grant, funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The University is one of 13 institutions representing 10 states and the only Ohio institution.

Participating schools offer a for-credit seminar during the Fall semester to help students develop and execute field-based research projects that address the unique economic development needs of their communities and align with ARC’s investment priorities. Assistant Professor Dr. William Toombs’s Regional Planning course and Associate Professor Dr. Stephen Van Horn’s Introduction to Geographic Information Systems course will support the ACRI grant.

For this year’s project – Community Assessment for the Village of New Concord: Place-Based Applied Research for Enhancing Cultural Tourism and Walkability for Economic Revitalization – students will work with the Village of New Concord in Fall 2023 to conduct a community needs assessment for improving walkability and access to the Village downtown business district, highlighting local historic landmarks, enhancing wellness and eco-tourism through new linkages to outdoor trails and natural resources, improving signage, and creating a digital story map of various points of interest around the community.

As a capstone, students will present their work to other student delegations from participating institutions, ARC leadership, and community leaders in a formal peer-to-peer conference setting hosted by ARC and the Consortium of Appalachian Colleges and Universities. Presentations will be in December 2023 in Washington D.C.

“We are pleased to receive the ACRI grant and once again offer our students this unique, hands-on learning opportunity,” said Dr. Van Horn. “We also are looking forward to working with the Village of New Concord and supporting the community that the University calls home.”

Last year, Muskingum University students worked with the Zanesville City Council to develop a five-year strategic plan for downtown development, including a plan for destination branding, and a GIS Interactive Mapping Application.

ACRI is one of ARC’s four academies and institutes, offering experiential learning opportunities where participants build collaborative networks, hone skills, and foster an enduring commitment to Appalachia’s future. Click here to view the Request for Proposals, which highlights the goals and outcomes of the grant program.

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