Appalachian Regional Commission

Sprouting farms
Brittany Patterson / WVPB

This story is part of an episode of Inside Appalachia about projects aimed at spurring job growth in Appalachia.

On a recent Monday morning, as the rising sun burns off the low-hanging fog and fishermen haul in their morning catches from the Greenbrier River, at Sprouting Farms, the day is well underway.

Produce has been harvested and safely stored in a giant refrigerator. Employees are packaging cherry tomatoes into plastic clamshells, activities you might find at any of the farms that dot the Greenbrier Valley.

But while the daily tasks are handled at this production-scale vegetable farm, the crux of Sprouting Farms’ mission goes beyond the fields at hand.  

Janet Kunicki/ WVPB

Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, federal funds to help revitalize coal country have poured in from Washington, D.C. And in recent years, a new federal push has brought millions of dollars worth of funding to projects that are intended to create jobs and retrain people in coal country for work in other fields. There are also a number of state initiatives to help generate job growth. But have these projects worked? 


Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

We reported earlier this year on an economic development project to grow lavender on former strip mines in West Virginia. After the story was released, we heard from a number of students involved in the program, saying they were disappointed and felt misled by the outcomes of the project, called Green Mining. West Virginia Public Broadcasting revisited the story to find out what happened, and if the project is still going as expected. 


Appalachian Regional Commission

A new economic report from the Appalachian Regional Commission shows that across Appalachia, communities are starting to rebound. But in West Virginia, that’s not the case. 


Aaron Payne/ OHIO VALLEY RESOURCE

Central Appalachia has some of the worst health measures in the country. But some communities are bucking those trends with better health outcomes. A new report looks at how some Appalachian counties are improving their health statistics and becoming bright spots. 


Wendy Wasserman / ARC

Not long after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky squared off with President Trump over funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission, the ARC has a new federal co-chair with strong ties to McConnell.

Long-time McConnell aide Tim Thomas said he can see a day when the Appalachian Regional Commission is no longer needed. But that’s not something he expects to come any time soon.

courtesy Partnership for Appalachian Girls' Education

Our region has challenges, from the economic decline of the coal industry, to the opioid epidemic, there’s work to do in our communities. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear from several people who are trying to reinvigorate our region with opportunities for change. We’ll also hear from some younger voices in Appalachian, North Carolina about growing up in the mountains.

 


Roxy Todd/ WVPB

Several federally funded job-training programs have emerged in recent years designed to help revitalize coal country. In 2017 alone, the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership focused on economic development since the mid-1960s, approved more than $150 million in projects for the region. But how successful are these programs, and what are the challenges?

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a group facilitating the completion of a rail-trail connecting Pittsburgh to Parkersburg says the project has the potential to boost tourism.

Washington, D.C.-based Rails-to-Trails Conservancy released a feasibility study this week. It shows filling gaps in Harrison, Marion and Wood counties in West Virginia would complete the 238-mile trail, referred by proponents as "P2P." Jesse Wright spoke with two people from the conservancy about the study and what’s next for the project.

Courtesy

President Donald Trump appointed a new federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission or ARC. Tim Thomas spent the past three years serving on the state staff of Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky. Thomas also has experience as the director of external and regulatory affairs for Swift & Staley, a Kentucky-based maintenance, operations and environmental services company. Its clients have included federal and state agencies, such as the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture.

Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission reports supporting 55 projects in West Virginia with nearly $19 million in the 2017 fiscal year.

Adobe Stock

The Appalachian Regional Commission has just awarded more than 1.3 million dollars to support economic development projects throughout West Virginia.

Valerius Tygart / Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump intends to nominate a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's staff as the new federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The White House said Thursday in a news release that the president intends to nominate Tim Thomas to oversee the ARC. Thomas works as a McConnell staff member in Kentucky. He previously worked in former Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration.

Adobe Stock

A U.S. House subcommittee focused on the opioid epidemic in Appalachia during a hearing this morning on Capitol Hill. 

The Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management focused on economics - specifically the impact of the opioid crisis on efforts in Appalachia to spur economic development and growth in distressed communities.

Witnesses included representatives from the economic development agency the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Unemployment Line
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

 


Several organizations throughout Appalachia will see federal grant money. Funds are designed to help strengthen coal-impacted economies.

 

The Appalachian Regional Commission announced nearly $2 million additional dollars this week for regions in Appalachia that have been affected by job losses related to the declining coal industry.

 

Appalachian Health Falling Further Behind Nation's

Aug 24, 2017
Mountain Comprehensive Care

A new report shows just how far Appalachia has fallen behind the rest of the country on key health measures such as rates of cancer, heart disease and infant mortality. Researchers say the region’s health gap is growing and they hope the data they’ve compiled will spur new approaches to health care. 

Steve Helber / AP File Photo

Crystal Snyder was trying to figure out life as a single mom when she lost her job at a West Virginia T-shirt factory.

The 37-year-old had no college degree, mostly because she married at 16, divorced at 19 and had two children. Unsure what to do, Snyder heard about a program through the Coalfield Development Corp. that would hire her and pay for her to get an associate degree. Now she works full time for one of the nonprofit's agriculture offshoots.

Appalachian Regional Commission

On March 9, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill creating the Appalachian Regional Commission, known as the ARC. The agency’s goal was to bring impoverished areas of Appalachia into the mainstream American economy. While the ARC serves parts of 13 states, West Virginia is the only one that lies entirely within the boundaries of Appalachia.

Doctor, medicine
sudok1 / Dollar Photo Club

  Marshall University is receiving a $1.3 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to train community health workers in coal counties in eastern Kentucky, southern Ohio and parts of West Virginia.

U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins of West Virginia announced the grant in a news release Thursday for the Marshall University Research Corporation.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, voters in Pennsylvania’s coal country are looking to President Donald Trump to promote the industry and members of the Frankfort High School band are getting ready to march in today’s inaugural parade in Washington. 

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Bicycles, Bikes
Pixabay

The New River Gorge Trail Alliance has received a $140,000 planning grant to help plan a bike trail system in Fayette and Nicholas counties.

The organization says it received the grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for a feasibility study of a regionally connected bike trail system and expects to spend the next year planning how to build the network.

Money, Cash
2bgr8 / Deviantart

State officials have recommended 11 Appalachian Regional Commission grants for $5.1 million for programs for economic development and infrastructure projects across West Virginia.

They include $1.5 million to replace water lines in two areas in the city of Welch, $430,000 for the town of Reedy to correct sewage inflow and infiltration problems and $1.85 million for Flatwoods-Canoe Run PSD to extend public water service in the Flatwoods area.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the United States Economic Development Administration visited Huntington this week to announce millions of dollars in funding for Appalachian communities struggling with the effects of coal’s decline. 

Programs in Coal Communities Get Infusion of Money

Aug 24, 2016
ARC Announcement
Clark Davis / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the United States Economic Development Administration visited Huntington this week to announce millions of dollars in funding for Appalachian communities struggling with the effects of coal’s decline.

Roxy Todd

What does a Cornbread Festival in Tennessee, a Paw Paw festival in Ohio and the Hatfield McCoy Moonshine Distillery in West Virginia all have in common? They’re among hundreds of destinations featured on a map called Bon Appétit Appalachia. The map features Appalachian restaurants, wineries, and festivals serving locally sourced food has just been updated with more listings by The Appalachian Regional Commission. The map has 62 regional food destinations in West Virginia. 

Lawmakers Ask Governor to Expand Call Options

May 19, 2016

On West Virginia Morning, legislative leaders have asked Governor Tomblin to expand his call for the special session to give lawmakers more options to consider as they discuss the 2017 state budget. 

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

AllVoices.com

A crowd of about 200 people gathered in Sutton to learn about the process for applying for funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Economic Development Administration’s joint POWER Initiative.

State Awards ARC Grants to 11 Projects

Sep 10, 2015
ARC Grants Presser
Ashton Marra / WV Public Broadcasting

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin held a press conference Thursday to announce the recipients of grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission Investment Program. 

Joined by Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette and the West Virginia Development Office, Tomblin presented more than $4.7 million in funding to support 11 programs and organizations in the state. Many of the projects involved public water and educational services. Tomblin said it can make all the different for folks in the state. 

Growing Food, Growing the Appalachian Economy

Jun 17, 2015
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition promotes locally grown food and the group is beginning to frame its legislative agenda for 2016.  Also, the Appalachian Regional Commission is collecting information to guide its economic development efforts for the region.  These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.


Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

About 150 people from six states gathered in Morgantown Tuesday, June 16, to tell the Appalachian Regional Commission what they think the organization can do to help the region take advantage of emerging opportunities. The ARC will use the information collected at the Morgantown listening session and four others to develop a plan to guide its economic and community development efforts during the next five years.

 

The Appalachian Regional Commission was created as an economic development agency in 1964 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. The ARC partners with federal, state and local government to advocate for sustainable community and economic development across the region.

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