Appalachian Regional Commission

Glynis Board

The Appalachian Regional Commission is investing another $43.3 million in communities affected by the downturn of the coal industry. The latest POWER grants from the ARC will support 51 projects in coal-dependent communities, including over $15 million for 20 projects in the Ohio Valley. 

The investments are going towards projects that will support broadband expansion, workforce development, entrepreneurship opportunities, and substance abuse recovery in the region’s coal-impacted communities. 

 


Appalachian Regional Commission Facebook

A new report shows Appalachian counties in Kentucky saw a decline in employment growth at the same time other states in Appalachia saw an increase. The region overall is shifting toward more job diversity, but still lags behind the rest of the country.

The report from the Appalachian Regional Commission looked at 15 different industry sectors from 2002 to 2017. It found that employment across those industries in Appalachia grew by just under 5 percent, but is still behind the country as a whole.

 

The largest employment shares in Appalachian parts of Kentucky are state and local government, health and social services, and retail. 


Brittany Patterson I Ohio Valley ReSource

Devin Mefford is sitting in the squat metal buggy of a modified mantrip, the train-like shuttle coal miners use to travel underground. Mefford is dressed for work, in a hardhat and a navy shirt and pants with lime green reflective stripes.

It’s a uniform his father and grandfather — both Kentucky coal miners — would be familiar with.

Mefford does go into a mine every day, but not for the coal. He’s the tour guide at Portal 31, a train ride through a once-operational coal mine in Harlan County.


Aaron Payne

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded a major grant to what it calls an innovative pilot program for a region hit hard by the addiction crisis. The goal is to help people struggling with addiction get on the road to treatment, recovery, and – ultimately – employment.

People with substance use disorders can have trouble getting to addiction treatment, long-term recovery programs, and job opportunities if they don’t have access to reliable transportation, especially in rural areas.


Jeff Young

Declining coal tax revenues place coal-reliant counties in Appalachia at risk of fiscal collapse, according to new research from the centrist Brookings Institution and Columbia University. Policies designed to prevent further climate change would accelerate that decline, the report found, but could also provide a new stream of revenue to help communities rebound from coal’s demise.


Appalachian Regional Commission

An annual report from the Appalachian Regional Commission shows that while Appalachia is seeing some economic improvement, the heart of the region and its coal-producing communities are still struggling. Several counties in the Ohio Valley are moving in a negative direction in this year’s report. 

The ARC report evaluates the Appalachian region using county-level data on unemployment, per capita market income, and poverty. Counties are rated on a scale with five tiers. At the low end are those “economically distressed,” or those ranking among the worst 10 percent of county economies in the country. At the high end is “attainment,” for those with thriving economies on par with the nation’s top performing places. In between are counties labeled “at risk,” “transitional,” or “competitive.”


Appalachian Regional Commission

A new report from the Appalachian Regional Commission shows that Central Appalachia lags behind other parts of the region in employment, household income, and other key measures.

The data come from the American Community Survey, which is similar to the census and tracks county-level data over five-year periods. Researchers often use the survey to understand trends over time.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, which analyzed the ACS data, separated Appalachia into five subregions. In many key metrics, Central Appalachia, which includes parts of Kentucky and West Virginia, lagged behind other subregions.


Aaron Payne

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded more than two million dollars to expand addiction treatment and recovery resources for women in rural regions of the Ohio Valley hit hard by the opioid crisis.

Ohio University received $1,100,000 for the Appalachian Recovery Project in Athens County, Ohio. WestCare Kentucky, Inc., received $1,136,000 for the Judi Patton Center for Families project in Pikeville, Kentucky.

The funding comes from the ARC’s POWER Initiative, which was intended to boost economic development in regions affected by the decline of the coal industry.


Rebecca Kiger

The Appalachian Regional Commission announced Thursday another $22.8 million in funding to 33 projects aimed at revitalizing economies in places affected by the decline in the coal industry.

The awards are the latest in the ARC’s POWER Initiative, an acronym for Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization. Congress has funded the initiative for four years specifically to help communities affected by job losses in the Appalachian coal industry.


Appalachian Regional Commission Facebook

The Appalachian Regional Commission announced Thursday the latest recipients of grants designed to help struggling coal communities. The ARC will spend an additional $26 million for 35 new grants in its POWER initiative, the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization. Sixteen of those awards will go to projects in the Ohio Valley region.  

 

The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Kentucky was awarded one million dollars for their Community Oriented Access to Learning program. The initiative is focused on the health and information technology sectors. The program expects to add 50 health worker students in a field related to their training, 110 in information technology and 26 in broadband technology. Wendy Wasserman is the spokesperson for the Appalachian Regional Commission.


Appalachian Regional Commission

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.

“It will not happen on my watch, it will probably not happen on the watch of my successor, but I can see that day on the horizon,” Thomas said. “My vision for ARC is to see the day that this agency can shutter its doors because its goals and objectives have been reached in large measure.”


Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

At a recent conference in Lexington, Kentucky, economists and community leaders gathered to talk about the state’s current budget crunch and possible economic future. Peter Hille, president of Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, said Kentucky and other Appalachian states need to do more to build a new economy and move from dependence on a single source.

“Because coal played such a dominant role, it took the oxygen out of the room for the development of other sectors of the economy,” he said.


Appalachian Regional Commission Facebook

Two powerful Kentucky Republicans have an idea to boost an economic development agency that helps Appalachia: Move it out of the nation's capital.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and veteran Rep. Hal Rogers are sponsoring a bill they say will refocus the Appalachian Regional Commission to invest more in the poorest communities in 13 Appalachian states. The bill, introduced Monday in the House and Senate, would move the panel's headquarters from Washington to a location in Appalachia to be chosen later. The lawmakers say similar commissions are headquartered in their respective regions, reducing administrative costs and making them more accountable to communities they serve.

Erica Peterson

An economic development agency targeted for elimination by President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday nearly $16 million in funding to help diversify economies in hard-hit coal communities in seven Appalachian states.

The funding is earmarked for 18 projects in Alabama, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia, and will create or retain more than 1,700 jobs, the Appalachian Regional Commission said in a news release.

The money announced by the ARC comes from a job organization comprising the commission, the U.S. Commerce and Labor departments, and other federal agencies, and is "a blueprint for new jobs, fresh opportunities, and a robust economic future for Appalachia," ARC federal co-chair Earl Gohl said in the release.

Alexandra Kanik

By most measures, health outcomes in the Ohio Valley region are not very good, with many parts of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia ranking near the bottom among states.

But a team of health researchers may have found a few places within the region that stand out. They see them as potential ‘bright spots’ -- places with some health measures better than expected for the region.

Now the researchers want to know why these communities fare better and whether the lessons can be applied elsewhere.

Residents of West Virginia’s smallest county give different answers when asked to describe their home.

“There is here a very strong sense of community," a local reverend said.

“The people are friendly. They’re helpful,” according to a woman working with a local non-profit operating in one of the county’s poorest areas.

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