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ALEXANDRIA, La. (CLEDA) – The Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA) announced Friday that the economic development organization’s newest initiative got a jump start after receiving a New Horizons Grant from The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.

The $25,000 grant will fund Outdoor Recreation Fellows, a grassroots leadership training program that lays the foundation for CLEDA’s outdoor recreation initiative. The new initiative is a collaborative effort among community leaders, recreation advocates, U.S. Forest Service partners, and CLEDA to leverage Central Louisiana’s outdoor recreation assets to create new economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for everyone in the region.

The outdoor recreation initiative specifically focuses on nature-based activities, including hiking, fishing, biking, hunting, and kayaking. “Outdoor recreation is a unique regional asset that all parishes in Central Louisiana can capitalize upon to recruit and retain talent, build healthier communities, and create a greater pride of place,” said Jim Clinton, CLEDA’s President and CEO. “Outdoor Recreation Fellows lays the foundation for a sustainable initiative that connects our outdoor recreation assets to vibrant community development.”

Outdoor Recreation Fellows is inspired by CLEDA’s other annual leadership training program, Louisiana Food Fellows, which has graduated over 60 local food leaders across Louisiana since 2015. The inaugural Outdoor Recreation Fellows program will kick-off in early 2021 and feature a series of workshops focused on partnership and policy development, grassroots organizing, program implementation, and networking.

To learn more about the outdoor recreation initiative and Outdoor Recreation Fellows, contact Clinton at [email protected].

The Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA) builds economic prosperity in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn. The mission of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance is to help people prosper in vibrant, thriving communities.

The Blue Cross Foundation works each day to improve the health and lives of Louisianans by empowering everyday people to do extraordinary good. By building and funding coalitions of friends, families and neighbors, The Blue Cross Foundation hopes to build a healthier Louisiana,

particularly for its children. The Blue Cross Foundation is funded solely by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana but is a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity.

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