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Inside Information: September–December 1998 Issue


ARC Reauthorization Approved by Congress

ARC saw its support in Congress strengthen this year with passage of several important pieces of legislation, including a new reauthorization bill that calls for a gradual increase in ARC funding over the next three years. Approved by the House and Senate in October, the bill marks the first time ARC has received reauthorization from Congress since 1980. President Clinton signed the bill into law in mid November.

"This vote was a signal achievement for Appalachian senators and congressmen and their allies," said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Jesse L. White Jr. "Much of the credit goes to the ARC partnership itself for reforming its operations and developing a new vision and a new strategic plan."

The ARC reauthorization bill follows passage of a landmark $2.25 billion highway funding bill and congressional approval of $66.4 million for all ARC human and economic development programs in fiscal year 1999.

West Virginia Governor Cecil Underwood, who testified before Congress earlier this year in support of ARC programs, said Congress sees ARC as "a partnership that works." Added Underwood: "Having recently gone through a rigorous process of developing a new strategic plan and setting regional goals, ARC has become a leaner, more innovative and flexible agency that is moving on a number of new fronts to help the people of Appalachia help themselves."

"Congress's action demonstrates the confidence that many elected leaders, including our nation's governors, have in the Appalachian Regional Commission," said New York Governor George Pataki, who this year served as ARC's states' co-chairman.

ARC's reauthorization measure calls for a gradual budgetary increase for the agency over the next three years up to $70 million for all nonhighway investments. This multi-year commitment will help communities throughout the Region realize longer-term economic development plans.

The legislation builds upon internal ARC reforms, such as the streamlining of grant procedures and the elimination of outdated regulations, that were first outlined in ARC's 1996 strategic plan. Resources will continue to be targeted to the most economically distressed areas. Appalachia's local development districts will continue to be vital and active partners in crafting regional strategies for economic growth, according to the new legislation.

Study Examines Impact of Appalachian Highway System

Completed portions of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) are having a huge economic impact on the Appalachian Region, creating thousands of new jobs and generating billions of dollars in economic benefits, according to a study released in November.

Conducted for ARC by the South Carolina economic consulting firm Wilbur Smith Associates, the study evaluated the extent to which completed portions of the proposed 3,025-mile highway system have attained their economic development objectives. About 80 percent of the modern four-lane highway system is complete or under construction. Since 1965, ARC has invested over $4.5 billion in federal funds in the highway system.

"This study is important because it documents better than ever before how the Appalachian Development Highway System is creating jobs and increasing wages while also saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year by reducing travel time," said Federal Co-Chairman Jesse White.

The study looked at the impact of completed segments of 12 ADHS corridors in 165 counties they affect. The counties involved represent about 40 percent of the Region's 406 counties.

Among its major conclusions, the study found that the ADHS is:

  • creating jobs: the report estimated a net increase of 16,000 jobs along the completed corridor segments by 1995 and 42,000 jobs by 2015. These jobs, the report noted, would not have been created without the ADHS.
  • generating economic benefits: the report estimated the economic impact of the completed ADHS corridor segments at $5.48 billion (from 1965 through 2025), exclusive of impacts related to construction. When construction impacts are included, the total figure increases to $6.9 billion.
  • decreasing travel time and cost: the completed corridor segments are expected to produce travel efficiencies valued at $4.89 billion over the 1965–2025 period. These savings are the result of changes such as a greater number of lanes and improved grades and driving conditions.

Copies of the report are available through ARC's Customer Relations and External Affairs Division, (202) 884-7799.

ARC Representatives Hold Commission Meeting in Corning, New York

Representatives of ARC's 13 state governors met in Corning, New York, September 10–11 to review strategies and objectives for FY 1999 and to hear reports on how states are making progress in ARC's five goal areas: education and workforce training, infrastructure improvements, civic capacity and leadership, business development, and health care.

ARC delegates also had the opportunity to meet with entrepreneurs at the ARC-supported Ceramics Corridor Innovation Center and attended a presentation given by New York students and teachers who had participated in an ARC-supported math and science institute in Tennessee last summer.

"This has been a terrific visit," said Federal Co-Chairman Jesse White. "We have established a tradition of going into the Region at least once a year to hold a meeting. Last year, it was Mississippi. This year, New York, and each year it's been a very good experience." White also applauded New York Alternate Alexander Treadwell and other state representatives for their work in hosting the two days of activities.

"This has been a very successful and productive year for ARC," Treadwell said, noting recent congressional approval of $2.25 billion in highway construction funds for Appalachia over the next five years. "ARC is moving in a very positive direction."

During the Commission meeting, ARC staff provided an update on the second round of the Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community application process. ARC recently made 18 mini-grants providing 35 communities with technical and financial assistance in application preparation, strategic planning, and benchmarking activities.

Meeting participants heard a presentation by Ralph Kerr, superintendent of the Arkport Central School District in New York, on its successful ARC-funded telecommunications project.

The Commission also welcomed Ron Eller, director of the Appalachian Center and associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky, as ARC's new John D. Whisman Scholar. Eller succeeds Amy K. Glasmeier of Pennsylvania State University, who has conducted research for ARC over the past two years.

DDAA Holds Workshops on Collaboration with Foundations

More than 360 participants—including representatives from some 20 foundations—took part in a series of workshops on collaboration between community organizations and foundations held earlier this year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Kingsport, Tennessee; and Birmingham, Alabama.

Foundation participants included representatives of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Levi Strauss Foundation, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, and the Fannie Mae Foundation, among many others. These workshops were sponsored by ARC, the Development District Association of Appalachia, and the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

Speaking at the Pittsburgh workshop in August, Federal Co-Chairman Jesse White emphasized the importance of collaboration in effectively carrying out community development. The workshops, he noted, were designed to bring local officials, community leaders, and economic development professionals together with foundation representatives to explore opportunities for building new partnerships and collaborations.

A summary of the workshop proceedings is available for a fee from Michael Pessolano at (877) 456-6837.