Three communities in the heart of the Cotton Belt have been named to receive the new “Cotton Town USA” designation aimed at honoring communities that rely on cotton as a cultural and economic cornerstone.
The winners — Dermott, Ark., Floydada, Texas, and Stamford, Texas — will each receive grants of $10,000 from Bayer CropScience and the National Cotton Women's Committee to fund community improvement projects.
“We are proud to award this honor to three towns that have demonstrated a strong commitment to the cotton industry,” says Al Luke, Bayer CropScience insecticides/PGR manager.
Applicants were asked to complete a nomination form that included telling why theirs is a cotton town, and a short explanation of why their town should receive the award and what it would do with the grant money if their community were selected. In its inaugural year, the Cotton Town USA program received more than 80 applications.
“The quality and number of the Cotton Town USA applications we received surpassed our expectations,” says Cotton Nelson, manager, public relations for the National Cotton Council. “It is quite apparent the applicants are proud of their cotton towns and their heritage, and are dedicated to improving their communities.
“We salute Bayer CropScience for stepping up to recognize and support rural America in this challenging economy.”
All three communities have specific plans for the grant money.
Dermott, in southeast Arkansas, plans to create and furnish a community room for civic functions that will be open to all residents. The town plans to display its Cotton Town USA plaque in the room.
Floydada, in west Texas, will use the money to help create a community technology center that will provide citizens with access to computers, as well as technology training and business and educational classes.
“Training will be free for all citizens and includes GED, new business startup and Internet training to assist our businesses and farmers in finding new marketing avenues for products and crops,” says Floydada's nominator, Dora Ross.
Stamford, also in west Texas, proposes the grant be used as “seed money” to purchase a Cotton Town Cottage — an old house the town plans to restore and raffle to preserve the historic heritage of the town. Funds earned through the raffle will then go towards improving other community buildings.
As Stamford resident Paula Bennett wrote in her submission, “Can't you visualize it now: remodeled, freshly painted, trimmed shrubs, a red porch swing and a sign in the yard, ‘Cotton Town Cottage — the House that Cotton rebuilt?’”
Cotton Town USA is part of Cotton Counts, a consumer awareness campaign aimed at improving the understanding of and attitudes toward the U.S. cotton industry, and led by the National Cotton Women's Committee.
Grants are funded by sales from the Temik Saver's Choice program, which rewards growers for multiple purchases of Bayer products.