Fifteen Communities Advance in America’s Best Communities $10M Prize Competition

Sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel, America’s Best Communities is investing in new solutions to revitalize rural and suburban America


NORWALK, Conn., Jan. 13, 2016 – Celebrations are erupting in 15 communities across the country as residents learn their hometowns are semi-finalists in the America’s Best Communities competition and will continue to compete for the first place prize of $3 million.

More than 350 communities nationwide entered the competition after its launch in 2014, and 50 were selected as quarterfinalists in April 2015. Each of the 50 was awarded $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. From this class of 50 quarterfinalist communities, the fifteen with the best plans — those with the most innovative ideas being effectively executed — were named semifinalists today.

The America’s Best Communities semifinalists are: Lake Havasu City, Arizona; Charleston, West Virginia; Statesboro, Georgia; Valley County/Meadows Valley, Idaho; Chisago Lakes Area, Minnesota; Huntington, West Virginia; Portsmouth, Ohio; DeKalb, Illinois; Fort Dodge, Iowa; Darrington/Arlington, Washington; Valparaiso, Indiana; Tualatin, Oregon; Wenatchee/East Wenatchee, Washington; Madison, Indiana; and Angola/Fremont, Indiana.

Sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel, the America’s Best Communities competition has dedicated $10 million in prizes and other support to spark economic revitalization in small towns and rural communities across the country. The fifteen communities now advancing into the semifinals have crafted innovative solutions designed to transform their local economies and improve the lives and livelihoods of their citizens.

“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.”

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

At the end of the summit, 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, and $1 million for third.

“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.”

To explore the communities’ revitalization strategies and for additional information on the competition, please visit


John Puskar

Frontier Communications



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Angola-Fremont Unveils Community Revitalization Plan Submitted to ABC Competition

Funded by the America’s Best Communities competition, the Community Revitalization Plan outlines vision for Angola, Fremont and Steuben County’s future and action plan to achieve it

(NOVEMBER 9, 2015) – ANGOLA, IN – For six months, local leaders in Angola, Fremont and Steuben CCover ABC Planounty have been hard at work developing a Community Revitalization Plan to guide the community’s economic fut
ure. Today, they unveiled the plan, which will determine whether they will advance in the America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition for a chance to win the contest’s $3 million grand prize.

The comprehensive plan aims to fuel the momentum behind ongoing efforts to become the premiere Midwest location for materials and electronics research and product commercialization, become home to the highest skilled professional and technical workforce in the Midwest, and retain and attract highly skilled and millennial entrepreneurs, artists and other creative types to the community.

We will utilize the resources in the community in a manner that focuses the energies and rich talents toward a shared goal.  The educational resources exist, the talent exists and the desire to control our own economic fate exists.  As we focus on those technologies which will separate us from the pack, Angola, Fremont and Steuben County will know economic independence. By putting this at the heart of the community’s plan, local leaders believe they have constructed a strategy that will drive the community forward.

“Whether we advance into the next round or not, we know we have a winning revitalization plan,” said David Koenig, Executive Director of Steuben County Economic Development Corp. “No matter what happens next, our journey to become America’s best community will not end when the semifinalists are announced. This Community Revitalization Plan has set us on a bold course to a more vibrant, prosperous future.”  Adding, “We’re confident in our plan, and we know we’ve got what it takes to win the top prize.”

When it advanced into the ABC quarterfinals, Angola and Fremont were awarded $50,000 to construct a Community Revitalization Plan. Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel — the sponsors of the America’s Best Communities competition — provided $35,000 of the award, with the remaining $15,000 in funding coming from Angola-Fremont’s Adopt-a-Community mentor Mitel.

When implemented, the Community Revitalization Plan will focus on seven transformative projects described in great detail within the Angola-Fremont Community Revitalization Plan:

1) The Enterprise Center
2) Angola Technology Park
3) Fremont Logistics Park
4) Corridor Beautification Plans
5) Trail Network and Expansion
6) Fiber Optic (iMAN) Network Redundancy
7) Downtown Angola Revitalization Project(s)

Click on this link to view the complete Angola-Fremont Community Revitalization Plan.

“With support from America’s Best Communities and input from hundreds of residents, we have constructed a revitalization strategy that effectively lays out the steps we need to take to become the community we know we can be,” said Angola Mayor, Dick Hickman. “With the resources necessary, it will change the trajectory of our economy and strengthen our community for generations to come.”
When Frontier Communications launched America’s Best Communities, the company envisioned it helping to uncover new business plans that have the potential to create the next great American city. Frontier hoped to develop roadmaps to revitalization for rural communities across the U.S.

“We’re excited to see which ideas rise to the top and how they will help not only an applicant’s local community grow and thrive, but how the proposals can benefit all communities across America,” said Frontier Executive Chairman Maggie Wilderotter when the competition first launched.

Angola-Fremont is one of only 50 communities across the country that advanced into the quarterfinals of the America’s Best Communities competition. A panel of expert judges will now review the revitalization plans, and the best proposals will be awarded additional funding in the next rounds of the competition.

In January 2016, up to 15 communities will be named semifinalists and invited to attend the America’s Best Communities Summit, where they will present their revitalization plans. Eight communities will then be selected to receive $100,000 to implement their plans, with the opportunity to secure one of the grand prizes.

Spearheaded by Frontier Communications and cosponsored by DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel, America’s Best Communities is a multi-stage, three-year competition that is providing $4 million in seed money and other support to assist communities as they develop new economic growth strategies. The top three communities will share a total of $6 million in grand prize money. The winning community will be awarded $3 million, with $2 million for second place and $1 million for third. To learn more, visit
David Koenig
Steuben County Economic Development Corp.
(260) 665-6889

– See more at:


Enterprise Center Advances with Community’s Help

(Angola, Ind.)  July 30, 2015 – The City of Angola, Town of Fremont and Steuben County Economic Development Corporation introduced plans for a multi-purpose project at the former TransGuard facility at 907 South Wayne Street in April of this year.  The project also served as the impetus for the community’s application to the America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition, sponsored by Frontier Communications, Dish Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel.

The project has made tremendous progress since the concept was introduced:

  • Angola/Fremont were selected as a quarter finalist in the ABC competition, and Mitel from Ottawa, Canada has been named a corporate sponsor and mentor in the competition;
  • With the support of Steuben County Government and Farmers State Bank, the Steuben County EDC was able to acquire the 4.23 acre, five building, 70,000 sq. ft. TransGuard complex, which had set empty for six years;
  • Steuben County EDC relocated its offices to 907 South Wayne Street on July 1st; and
  • Redevelopment of the complex into an industrial training center, coworking space and business incubator received a wonderful boost at the facility’s Open House and Dedication on July 21st, when three significant grants were announced:
    • NIPSCO contributed $20,000;
    • Steuben County  Community Foundation contributed $100,000 (plus an additional $10,000 to extend iMAN fiber connection to the facility); and
    • Steuben County REMC Operation Round Up contributed $10,000.
  • The City of Angola is preparing a complete street-scaping project to include controlled driveway access, curbs, grass meridians and sidewalks along the 365 feet of South Wayne Street frontage.

“The Enterprise Center is off to a strong start”, according to Richard (Dick) Dodge, President of the Steuben County EDC Board of Directors.  “Over the past month we have had a number of local contractors onsite, helping us shore up the complex after sitting empty for six years, added Dodge.  Preferred Maintenance, Selman Plumbing, Simpson Electric, Four Season Design & Remodeling, J.Co., Larry’s Lock & Safe and Klink Trucking are some of the contractors already working onsite.  “The EDC wants local contractors to be a part of this project”, stated Dodge.

Moving forward, the Steuben County EDC will be seeking other local contributions and grants in support of the project.  “We need to use the funds raised to leverage State and regional support”, stated David Koenig, Executive Director for the Steuben County EDC.   “A new Workforce Development Program grant has just been announced by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).  The Regional Cities Initiative program could bring tens of millions of dollars into the region that we may be able to access.  These are competitive grant opportunities and we have invest in ourselves before expecting others to invest in us”, Koenig added.

The Steuben County EDC intends to keep the contributions to date, and future contributions on hand, ready for local match for these and other funding opportunities.  “We want to turn every dollar contributed locally into $2 or $4 dollars.  “We’re rolling out an online giving campaign for local residents and businesses that share our vision and want to support the effort.  We’re approaching the Steuben County Industrial Guild for support, especially with regard to the training center equipment and buildout”, state Koenig.

The Steuben County EDC anticipates investing up to $1 million into the complex over the next 12 months, to get the training center up and running, to convert the old barn into coworking space and to finish out the corner building (South Wayne Street and East Felicity Street) into a visitor’s center and offices for the Steuben County Tourism Bureau.  An additional $500,000 to $1 million will be required to make improvements to the back buildings, exteriors, parking and general upgrades in year two.

“The support from the community has been overwhelming”, stated Craig Ralston, Vice President of the Steuben County EDC Board of Directors.   Adding, “We’ve also been happy to see people from outside the community who walk through and can see what this complex will be and how it will serve the community!”