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Investing in Appalachia's Future

The Appalachian Regional Commission's Five-Year Strategic Plan for Capitalizing on Appalachia's Opportunities, 2016–2020

In the fall of 2015, the Appalachian Regional Commission approved a new strategic plan to guide the Commission's economic and community development efforts in Appalachia from fiscal years 2016 through 2020. The plan outlines five strategic goals supporting ARC's vision and mission.

ARC's vision: Appalachia is a region of great opportunity that will achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

ARC's mission: To innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.

ARC 2016–2020 Strategic Investment Goals

Goal 1: Economic Opportunities
Invest in entrepreneurial and business development strategies that strengthen Appalachia's economy.

Goal 2: Ready Workforce
Improve the education, knowledge, skills, and health of residents to work and succeed in Appalachia.

Goal 3: Critical Infrastructure
Invest in critical infrastructure—especially broadband; transportation, including the Appalachian Development Highway System; and water/wastewater systems.

Goal 4: Natural and Cultural Assets
Strengthen Appalachia's community and economic development potential by leveraging the Region's natural and cultural heritage assets.

Goal 5: Leadership and Community Capacity
Build the capacity and skills of current and next-generation leaders and organizations to innovate, collaborate, and advance community and economic development.

Investing in Appalachia's Future: The Appalachian Regional Commission's Five-Year Strategic Plan for Capitalizing on Appalachia's Opportunities, 2016–2020 (PDF: 4.8 MB)

The Strategic Planning Process

In FY 2014, ARC took the first step in developing a new strategic plan by commissioning research on socioeconomic change in the Appalachian Region since the Commission's inception in 1965. Appalachia Then and Now: Examining Changes to the Appalachian Region since 1965 showed substantial progress in the Appalachian Region, as well as challenges remaining.

ARC then worked with local, state, and regional partners to gather input on issues and challenges facing Appalachian communities, and on past successes and opportunities ahead. A team that included the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Groups, Rural Support Partners, and EntreWorks Consulting worked with ARC to design and facilitate five listening sessions and nine focus groups in the Region, and conducted a Region-wide public survey. More than 3,000 Appalachians provided input through this process, helping ARC reach consensus on its vision, mission, goals, objectives, and development roles for the five years ahead.