ARC Awards $17 Million to Multi-state Workforce and Tourism Development Projects

Two new ARISE grants promote multi-state solutions to outdoor recreation tourism and behavioral healthcare challenges across Appalachian Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4, 2024—Today the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded two new grants totaling $17 million to boost outdoor recreation tourism and strengthen the behavioral healthcare workforce through its Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE) funding opportunity, which drives large-scale economic transformation through multi-state collaboration:

  • $9.3 million ARISE grant to The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation and the Cumberland Trails Conference: Impacting 12 counties across Appalachian Kentucky and Tennessee, this trail improvement project will develop a wastewater treatment plant and other necessary site preparation infrastructure for Boone’s Ridge, a new outdoor recreation and education destination located on former mine land near the Cumberland Gap National Park. The project also supports the completion and maintenance of the Cumberland Trail by the Cumberland Trails Conference. This project supports communities that are part of the Rural Partners Network, an all-of-government program that connects rural communities with resources and funding to create jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic mobility.
  • $7.7 million ARISE grant to Community Education Group: Impacting 56 counties across Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia, this project will train and place new community health workers to strengthen the region’s behavioral healthcare systems, while creating new business and economic development partnerships. This project expands on the Community Education Group’s successful community health worker training program, which trains individuals with lived experience in substance use disorder recovery to become community health workers.

“In order to create true, large-scale, transformational change in our region, Appalachians must be willing to work together,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “The collaboration fostered between the states receiving this round of ARISE funding not only impacts two of Appalachia’s major economic drivers, outdoor recreation and healthcare, but sets a precedent for the ways our economy can be positively impacted when Appalachians work across the state lines and think of all Appalachians as our neighbors.”

“Appalachian states are blessed with natural beauty and rich resources, and investments like these are critical to expanding tourism and outdoor experiences that will be enjoyed for generations to come,” said ARC States’ Co-Chair Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “I thank ARC for encouraging multi-state projects that drive community investment and economic development.”

Since August 2022, ARC has used funding provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to invest $67.3 million in multi-state ARISE projects that will strengthen Appalachian business and industry, as well as support the development of new economic opportunities across the region.

“By investing in community revitalization, workforce training, and local healthcare, these ARISE grants deliver on President Biden’s commitment under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to invest in all of America, especially rural communities that are too often left behind,” said Lael Brainard, National Economic Advisor to President Biden.

ARC is accepting ARISE concept papers on an ongoing basis. The next deadline for concept paper submissions is April 30, 2024.

Learn more about ARISE:

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development entity of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.