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Rural Blog: McConnell, Rogers backing plan to move ARC out of Washington D.C., focus on poorest areas


Two powerful Kentucky Republicans have an idea to boost the economic development agency created to help Appalachia: “Move it out of the nation’s capital,” Matthew Daly reports for the Associated Press.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Hal Rogers, a House Appropriations Committee chair and former committee chair, “are sponsoring a bill they say will refocus the Appalachian Regional Commission to invest more in the poorest communities in 13 Appalachian states.”

ARC map shows most economically distressed counties in red. Click on it to enlarge.

ARC is a partnership of government at the local, state and federal levels that works to boost the workforce, economies, infrastructure, communities, and natural and cultural heritage of the Appalachian regions of 13 states, spanning from Mississippi to New York.

The legislation, introduced Sept. 18 in the House and Senate, would also increase funding to the poorest counties served by the ARC’s Area Development Program. Of the 82 counties the ARC classifies as economically distressed, 35, or 43 percent, are in Kentucky.

McConnell and Rogers say other regional commissions modeled after ARC are headquartered on home ground, and that such a move would reduce administrative costs and make them more accountable to their communities. The lawmakers say the location for the headquarters would be chosen after the bill becomes law.

President Trump’s proposed budget targeted ARC for elimination, “but lawmakers from both parties pledge it will remain intact,” Daly reports. McConnell said he supports ARC, but wants to improve it and make it more efficient.

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The Rural Blog is a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, from the IRJCI, based at the University of Kentucky. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is an extension program for rural journalists and news outlets. It takes no positions on issues and advocates only for strong news coverage, responsible commentary and things that make them possible, such as open-government laws. For more information see www.RuralJournalism.org.


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