Vince Gill is joining with America's Best Communities to help small towns and cities across the country.

“I love the spirit of rural America. My family came from rural roots. People scratched life out of the dirt. I would not have a career if it weren't for small towns,” Gill says, adding that he feels “very grateful” to be involved in the project, which will reward communities that submit sound plans for economic development.

In April, 50 cities -- out of over 200 applicants -- will be selected as quarter-finalists and receive development funds to continue through the competition, which ends with $3 million in prize money in 2017.

“People in small towns do a lot of things for us that really go unnoticed," Gill adds. "What this program is going to do is make where they live even better. How can that not be a great thing?”

In a Q & A with the organization, Gill stresses that rural communities play a huge role in the well-being of the country as a whole.

"The American countryside is full of small businesspeople -- farmers, store owners, independent truckers -- as well as dedicated people whose jobs depend on a thriving economy," he says. "I think the parts of this country that need help are looking for a hand up, not a hand out. Give the people the tools and they will do great things."

More information about the project can be found at