ARC Project Guidelines
On November 16, 2015, the Appalachian Regional Commission approved Investing in Appalachia, The Appalachian Regional Commission's Five-Year Strategic Plan for Capitalizing on Appalachia's Opportunities. Following adoption of the Plan, a revision of the ARC governing Code was undertaken to develop programs and policies to carry out the goals and objectives set forth in the Plan. Pursuant to Section 6.5 of the Code, the following project guidelines are established. The guidelines set forth the criteria for approval of ARC projects reflecting the requirements of the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 (ARDA), as amended, the ARC Code, and the provisions of the ARC Strategic Plan.
In accordance with Section 6.5 of the ARC Code, the Commission may, from time to time, approve additional Policy Statements concerning the implementation of Commission Area Development Programs. These Policy Statements will be included as appendices to these guidelines.
Appalachian Regional Development Act
ARC Code: General Project Approval Criterion
The ARC Code provides a single general project approval criterion to reflect the importance of its strategic goals. That criterion is found in Section 7.3 of the Code, which requires that each project for which ARC approval is requested be supported by a demonstration that it will contribute to the achievement of one or more of the Commission's strategic goals. (A limited exception to this criterion is recognized for individual projects that take advantage of special development opportunities or respond to emergency economic distress.)
The demonstration required by Section 7.3 of the Code may be accomplished most effectively by explaining how the proposed project moves the region closer to one or more of the objectives specifically identified for each goal area in the ARC Strategic Plan or additional objectives identified by a state in its Commission-approved Plan or Annual Strategy Statement. The Commission's objectives for each goal area are set out below.
Goal 1—Economic Opportunities–Objectives
Goal 2—Ready Workforce–Objectives
Goal 3—Critical Infrastructure–Objectives
Goal 4—Natural and Cultural Assets–Objectives
Goal 5—Leadership and Community Capacity–Objectives
In general, the Commission expects a recipient of an ARC grant to contribute its own resources to a project to the extent it is able to do so and to seek additional non-ARC funding assistance in a diligent manner.
The Appalachian Regional Development Act imposes matching requirements on ARC grants as described below. In addition to these statutory match requirements, however, the individual Appalachian States set forth in their Annual Strategy Statements their own cost-sharing and matching requirements, which may be more restrictive than the statutory limits in a particular instance.
2.1 ARDA Matching Requirements–General
2.2 ARDA Requirements–Miscellaneous
2.3 ARDA–Waiver of Restrictions on Projects in Economically Strong Counties
The restrictions on projects in competitive and attainment counties may be waived by the Commission upon a showing of (1) the existence of a significant pocket of distress in the part of the county in which the project is carried out or (2) the existence of a significant potential benefit from the project in one or more areas of the region outside the designated economically strong county in which the project is carried out. Waiver requests are made by the State Alternate representing the potential grantee, and such requests must be approved by the Federal Co-Chairman and State Alternates.
2.4 Multi-County Projects
Special matching rules apply to projects that are carried out in more than one county.
2.5 Discretionary Grant Authority
A limited amount of discretionary authority is made available to the Commission under Section 302 of the ARDA. Annually, the Commission allocates this authority to the Co-Chairmen's Committee and among the Appalachian States. The authority can be used to raise the statutory limits on ARC funding in projects implementing special regional initiatives approved by the Commission. It can also be used, with the approval of the Co-Chairmen's Committee, in instances of emergency economic distress. The discretionary authority, however, cannot be used to eliminate the funding restrictions on projects in competitive and attainment counties.
3.1 The ARC Code (Section 8-4) also specifically restricts the use of ARC funds for:
3.2 The Code (Section 8-1 b) allows an ARC grant involving significant construction to be directly administered by the Commission only if the project will be managed by a Federal or State entity experienced in the management of federally funded construction projects.
3.3 The same Code section also prohibits grants made directly to a for-profit entity.
3.4 Generally, assistance for an operations project is not available beyond three years after the effective date, except that a state may request additional funding for such a project pursuant to Section 303 of the ARDA.
3.5 Commission approval of a project for construction, renovation or equipment must take place prior to the letting of any contract. Except for a project under Section 201 of the ARDA or as otherwise prohibited by law, a State may waive this requirement at its option upon a finding that conditions warrant such action. A State that waives this requirement shall immediately notify ARC of such waiver.
3.6 At the request of a state, the Commission may revoke or revise its approval of any project pursuant to Section 303 of the ARDA (excluding projects under Section 201) if the work intended to be assisted is not under way within 18 months after the date of approval of such project.
To assist the Commission with the project evaluations required by the ARDA and the Code, all applications for ARC assistance should provide the following information and explanations:
ARDA. The construction of local access roads in the Appalachian Region is authorized under Section 201 of the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, as amended (ARDA). The ARDA authorizes the construction of up to 1,400 miles of local access roads that will serve recreational, residential, educational, commercial, or industrial sites, or facilitate a school consolidation program. ARDA Section 201 access road projects must be approved by the Commission, the State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. Projects are usually administered by the State Department of Transportation.
SAFETEA-LU. Funds authorized for the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) program under Section 1101 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users may be used to construct Appalachian access roads (SAFETEA-LU, Public Law 109-59, Section 1116).
Section 214. A State may also use a portion of its ARC Area Development allocation to fund an access road project under Section 214 of the ARDA. Such a project must be authorized under another Federal grant program and will be administered by the basic Federal agency (HUD, EDA or Agriculture) having responsibility for such grant program. Project criteria and matching limits for ARC Section 214 projects are discussed in the ARC Project Guidelines.
5.2 Funding and Match.
The ARC Code allows Appalachian States to apply a portion of their ADHS funds to access road projects (Section 9.5.c). Annually, each State may use up to $300,000 from balances of funds that have been allocated to it for the ADHS for access road projects. Access road authority is not cumulative, but must be approved by ARC during the year of availability.
The maximum Federal participation in an Appalachian access road project is 80% in ARC Distressed and Transitional counties. Funding is limited to 30% of project costs in ARC Competitive counties and is prohibited in ARC Attainment counties.
Section 201 of the ARDA requires Appalachian access road projects to be designed, constructed and maintained in accordance with the provisions of Title 23 of the U.S. Code. Section 109 of Title 23 allows road projects, such as access roads, that are not on the National Highway System, to be designed and constructed in accordance with State standards. ARC access roads are to be designed to accommodate the types and volumes of traffic that are anticipated for the 20-year period following construction.
5.4 Specific Project Criteria.
Section 9.6.b of the ARC Code provides criteria for specific types of ARC access roads:
Industrial, Commercial and Service Areas. Projects serving such areas must provide significant employment opportunities or otherwise meet the criteria set forth in an approved State Strategy Statement. A program for stimulating development in the area served by the project must be in existence, or specifically planned and funded. Such programs shall make provisions for necessary utilities, and shall be compatible with other development plans for the area.
Residential Developments. Projects may be approved to provide access to sites required to satisfy demonstrated needs for permanent housing.
Recreation Areas. Projects serving a recreational development must have a significant impact on the local economy. A program for stimulating development in the area served by the project must be in existence, or specifically planned and funded.
Educational Areas. Projects serving school consolidations or other educational activities shall be designed, wherever possible, to serve additional developmental objectives.
Timber Areas. Projects may be approved to facilitate the harvesting of timber lands which have significant commercial value. Priority shall be given to projects that complement other developmental activities serving the same areas.
5.5 Eligible Activities.
ARC local access road projects may provide funding for preliminary engineering, purchase of rights-of-way and construction. ARC funds are available for initial construction of local access roads but not for resurfacing, rehabilitation, upgrading or safety improvements on previously constructed ARC access roads. Eligibility of specific costs items are governed by the appropriate Federal-aid and State regulations for engineering, right-of-way and construction, including regulations pertaining to utility adjustments and accommodation.
5.6 Project Applications.
In addition to the information required by Section 5 of the ARC Project Guidelines, local access road project applications must include a certification by the State Department of Transportation that the project has been, or will be, included in the statewide transportation improvement program (STIP), that it meets state design criteria and that funds and obligation authority necessary for the project will be made available from the State's ADHS account for the project. The application should also include a description of the project including the roadway typical section(s), length to the nearest hundredth of a mile, pavement structure, and applicable design criteria, as well as a schedule for the completion of important project components.
6.1 ARDA Authority
Section 205. Assistance to regional skills partnerships in the Appalachian Region in order to improve the job skills of Appalachian workers for a specified industry is authorized by Section 205 of the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, as amended (ARDA). Section 205 grants are made and administered directly by the Commission. Section 205 contains eligibility criteria for grantees and projects that are summarized in these guidelines.
Other Authorities for ARC Job-Training and Skills Development Projects. A State may also use a portion of its ARC Area Development allocation to fund job-training and skills development projects under Sections 214 and 302 of the ARDA.
A project under Section 214 must be authorized under another Federal grant program and will be administered by the basic Federal agency having responsibility for such grant program. The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998, administered by the Department of Education, is mentioned specifically in Section 214, but other Federal grant programs for such assistance may also be available for ARC project funding. Project criteria and matching limits for ARC Section 214 projects are discussed elsewhere in these Guidelines.
Grants for such projects under Section 302 are made and administered directly by the Commission and are not subject to the eligibility restrictions of Section 205 grants.
6.2 Eligible Entities.
Section 205 funding is available only to a consortium established to serve one or more industries in a specified geographic area of the Region, which consists of representatives of businesses or a nonprofit organization that represents businesses, labor organizations, State and local governments, or educational institutions.
6.3 Eligible Activities.
In general, Section 205 funding is available for any project that is intended to improve the job skills of workers for a specified industry in a specified geographic area of Appalachia. The ARDA includes as eligible for funding under Section 205 the following types of projects; other types of projects, however, that meet the general eligibility criteria may also be considered for funding: (1) assessments of training and job skill needs for an industry; (2) development of curricula and training methods, including electronic learning or technology-based training; (3) identification of training providers and the development of partnerships between the industry and educational institutions, including community colleges; (4) development of apprenticeship programs; (5) development of training programs for workers, including dislocated workers; and (6) development of training plans for businesses.
6.4 Restriction on Administrative Costs.
A grantee consortium under a Section 205 grant may not use more than 10% of the grant funds to pay the administrative costs associated with its project. Administrative costs, however, may be used to supply the grantee's cost share obligations for its grant.
6.5 Project Applications.
In addition to the information required by Section 5 of the ARC Project Guidelines, regional skills partnership project applications must include a description of the consortium that is applying for the grant indicating the geographic area and the industry or industries it serves along with a listing of its members and their business or organizational affiliations. The project application must also indicate the specific industry for which it is designed to improve workers skills. Evaluation measures keyed to jobs created or preserved by the project must be included.