"Suffering a substantial outmigration, especially of young adults, local leaders are looking elsewhere for ways to establish sustainable economic development," Parke writes. "The steep topography and narrow valleys have contributed to several detrimental floods that devastated its downtown. Leaders knew they had to tame these waters for the downtown to remain viable and realize its potential, but realized they ultimately had to take a new approach: higher education."
In 1997, the Appalachian School of Law opened in Grundy. In 2005 came the Appalachian College of Pharmacy. And in 2013 the Appalachian College of Optometry is scheduled to open.
"Similar rural communities should take note of this town’s innovative approach to development," writs Parke, a student at the law school. "If ultimately successful, Grundy may become not only a model for strategic economic diversification in Appalachia, but rural America." (Read more)