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More than $73 million is available for Appalachia, but states must collaborate together to get it

peters_mountain_atc.jpg
Courtesy of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
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Peters Mountain

The Appalachian Regional Commission is making available $73.5 million to projects that include multi-state cooperation. “We should be working together to lift up our region,” said Gayle Manchin the federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, which oversees the funding.

The grant program, called ARISE, is in addition to the commission’s annual federal budget of $195 million.

The ARISE money comes from the bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Biden signed into law last year.

Manchin said projects like broadband expansion will have more impact if communities can cooperate across state lines. In the last fiscal year, the ARC awarded grants to 29 broadband projects across Appalachia.

“And I think if providers knew states were working more closely together, it might push them to work more closely with us instead of at such a competitive and expensive way that they work with us,” Manchin said.

She pointed to one partnership that is showing promise, called RIVERS, which is working to bolster outdoor tourism in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and other states.

“I guess that solidified for me, that what we were talking about not only was possible but it was really a good thing. We really were starting to talk about how we could grow our region, instead of instinctively thinking about our borders.”

25 counties in Virginia are within the Appalachian Regional Commission, which was formed in 1965 as part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Throughout its history, the ARC has invested $4.5 billion in approximately 28,000 economic development projects.

The ARC said that in less than 24 hours after they announced the new funding, 66 organizations registered for the ARISE pre-registration workshop on September 12.

Corrected: August 26, 2022 at 5:02 PM EDT
Editor's note, an earlier version of this story stated that $1 billion would be awarded from the Appalachian Regional Commission for the ARISE program. While the funding for ARISE is made possible thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, all of the funding for the ARC ($1 billion) will not necessarily be going to ARISE projects.
Roxy Todd is Radio IQ's New River Valley Bureau Chief.