Building Appalachia’s Infrastructure

Residents and businesses need access to reliable and affordable utilities and infrastructure to successfully live and work in the Region. Infrastructure, including safe, connected, and strategic transportation systems, play a critical role in Appalachia’s capacity to compete in the global economy.

ARC grants in infrastructure help communities leverage additional state and federal resources to fund projects that ultimately attract new businesses, create jobs, increase household income, and strengthen the Region’s economy.

Investment Impact

Fiscal Year 2020
$70.6M
Invested in 154 Projects
Fiscal Year 2020
9,058
Jobs Created and Retained
Fiscal Year 2020
68,020
Businesses and Households Served

Ensuring Availability of Basic Infrastructure

Personal, community, and economic prosperity depend on access to adequate, affordable utilities.

Appalachian communities often lack basic infrastructure or the sufficient, sustainable funding needed to make necessary updates. Infrastructure investments and accompanying economic development plans offer some of the largest returns on investment for economic and community prosperity.

Basic infrastructure includes water, sanitary sewer, and municipal storm wastewater; energy (including electric, heat, oil and gas, and alternative energy sources); and, where necessary, stormwater and emergency management infrastructure to build resilience and protect against natural disasters.

Expanding Access to Broadband

The pandemic and resulting need for remote work, school, and telehealth highlighted both the importance of broadband and cellular access and affordability, as well as the severe limitations of these services in portions of Appalachia.

Reliable and affordable broadband gives local businesses access to the digital marketplace, facilitates online learning and workforce development, and connects communities. ARC’s investments in broadband and data infrastructure help Appalachian communities—especially those in rural and/or distressed counties and areas—compete and participate in the global economy.

Ongoing opportunities exist for convening, coordinating, planning, mapping, and funding investments in broadband deployment and smart grids. 

Investments in Action

Enhancing Broadband in Unicoi County

With support from ARC’s POWER grant, Erwin Utilities installed 35 miles of fiber optic cable on an existing pole line so that fiber broadband service could reach residents and businesses in two underserved areas of Unicoi County, Tennessee.

Investing in Innovative Transportation Systems

Roads, highways, and public and personal transit are critical for economic growth, quality of life, and accessing employment opportunities and related employment supports.

Appalachia continues to struggle with equitable access to reliable, quality transportation systems that can efficiently and conveniently transport goods and people.

Increased funding and support for innovative planning are needed to attract and retain residents and businesses. This includes continued support for the Local Access Roads program and investments in intermodal facilities, rail spurs, inland ports and waterways, freight rail access, and aviation linking Appalachia to regional, national, and global markets.

 

Adopting Alternative Energy Strategies

Communities across Appalachia continue to develop sustainable clean energy solutions at a local and regional scale.

Encouraging investments in energy resources in Appalachia can increase job opportunities, strengthen energy independence, boost business viability, and bolster long-term climate resilience.

Solutions include energy efficiency improvements, strengthening the utility grid, increasing solar and wind energy production, and boosting the green economy.

Supporting Site Development

Communities across Appalachia continue to need investments in development-ready sites for economic and community development projects. There is also a great need for strategies to redevelop and repurpose unused, underutilized, or neglected sites, brownfields, and mine-scarred lands to fuel growth.

Planning and funding enable communities to develop technology centers, commercial and industrial sites, health care and educational facilities, makerspaces and incubators, and other venues to promote placemaking and boost economic growth.

Downtown Revitalization

ARC is dedicated to improving the region’s communities by investing in downtown revitalization projects, such as pedestrian and bike infrastructure and streetscaping.

These projects, which often integrate traditional water/sewer and broadband infrastructure, aim to support small businesses and make Appalachia’s downtown districts vibrant places to live, work, and play.