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March 2016

Two communities in Washington among semifinalists competing for "Best Communities" prize

First place prize is $3 million

America's Best Communities - Semi Finalist logoTwo communities in Washington - Arlington/Darrington and the Wenatchee Valley - are among 15 semifinalists in the America's Best Communities competition in hopes of winning the $3 million first-place prize.

Sponsors have dedicated $10 million in prizes and other support to spark economic revitalization in small towns and rural communities across the country. The semifinalists have crafted innovative solutions designed to transform their local economies and to improve the lives and livelihoods of their citizens.

Representatives from the 15 semifinalist communities will attend the America's Best Communities Summit April 26-27 in Durham, North Carolina, to present their proposals to a panel of expert judges and executives from the sponsoring companies and compete for additional financial support.

At the summit's conclusion, eight communities will be named finalists and awarded $100,000 to bring their plans to life.

In April 2017, the top three communities making the largest impact and showing the greatest potential for achieving sustainable revitalization will be selected as the grand prize winners. The first place community will receive $3 million, the second place community $2 million, with $1 million to be award for third place.

Leaders from Arlington, Darrington, the Economic Alliance Snohomish County, Washington State University North Puget Sound at Everett, and the WSU Metropolitan Center for Applied Research and Extension collaborated in developing a proposal to revitalize the area devastated by the deadly Oso mudslide in March 2014.

"It is exceptionally gratifying to have the opportunity to partner with the North Stillaguamish community in such an important and meaningful endeavor," siad Bob Drewel, WSU senior advisor to interim WSU president Dan Bernardo. "The strength of this community is its people working together for each other. This work and this partnership will last."

More than 350 communities nationwide entered the competition after its launch in 2014, with 50 of them selected as quarterfinalists. These communities received $50,000 in seed money to develop a Community Revitalization Plan and were paired with a major Corporation that served as a strategic advisor as part of the competition's Adopt-a-Community Program.

Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel are sponsoring the contest.

"America's Best Communities has inspired towns and cities to come together in ways we never thought possible. People from all walks of life were united by this challenge to reimagine their future and reinvigorate their community. Already it has stimulated positive change and economic progress," said Frontier Communications Executive Chairman Maggie Wilderotter. "Great communities don't just happen. They are the result of people working together for the common good."

"One in six of us calls Rural America home. These communities are the backbone of our country, but they've suffered from a host of challenges, from poverty to drug abuse," said Vince Gill, spokesperson for the competition and country music legend. "America's Best Communities has inspired new hope in rural America by providing a hand up, not a handout. It's helping our neighbors in small communities lift themselves up by their bootstraps and live their own American dream."

Each community's revitalization plan may be viewed at www.americasbestcommunities.com.