Money Invested in Appalachia Helps Up To a Point

Feb 23, 2015

The nonprofit group Shaping Our Appalachian Region Inc. has received approval for a $200,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The grant money will help pay for the nonprofit organization's startup costs. The group's aim is to improve economic diversity in eastern Kentucky. The money is the first of four installments of an ARC grant announced last year totaling $750,000 to be distributed over four years.

Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR, says the seed funding will help pay for essential staff and office equipment.

In addition, $137,500 in matching Kentucky coal severance funds are being used to support SOAR operations.

Meanwhile, a new study finds that the nearly $4 billion investment over 50 years by the agency created to fight poverty in Appalachia has helped its counties grow faster than rural areas elsewhere. But the region still lags the rest of the country in some important areas.

The study ordered up by the Appalachian Regional Commission cites progress in some areas such as poverty rates. But its authors noted persistent problems such as mortality rates and dependency on government checks.

Some who work with Appalachia's poor say the government needs to do much more to help the region's residents.

Researchers analyzed data going back to the state-federal partnership's creation by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. The 420-county territory includes pieces of 12 states stretching from New York to Mississippi.