Despite President Donald Trump’s promises to support Appalachian and coal country workers, his budget would completely cut the Appalachian Regional Commission, or ARC—a partnership that works with state and local governments to invest in the region’s workers, businesses, and critical infrastructure. In Appalachian Georgia, ARC funds support an average of 386 jobs and $10.7 million in earnings every year.
The commission covers the Appalachian region, spanning 420 counties and 13 states, and garners strong bipartisan support. The ARC acts as a catalyst for targeted efforts developed by local communities for local communities, ranging from access to water and internet and the development of agritourism to the preservation of Appalachian history and culture, as well as job creation and entrepreneurship.
One of the core ARC projects is the Appalachian Development Highway System, which seeks to connect Appalachian communities, bring in new jobs, and promote economic development in the region. The system is 89 percent complete. If finished, it is predicted to result in 80,500 jobs, $5.0 billion in increased value-added production, and $3.2 billion in increased wages for workers in Appalachia by 2035—a return of $3 for every dollar invested.
The ARC empowers local governments to design and implement economic revitalization plans that address the needs of their communities. From 2007 to 2013, ARC nonhighway investments accounted for nearly 10,000 jobs and $400 million in regional earnings, and since its founding, these nonhighway investments have brought an estimated 311,835 jobs to Appalachia. In ARC counties from 1969 to 2012, job growth was 4.2 percent higher and income growth was 5.5 percent higher on average compared to neighboring non-ARC counties.
Appalachian voters trusted President Trump to understand their needs and create good jobs—95 percent of the counties covered by the Appalachian Regional Commission voted for him in 2016. But Trump is already turning his back on Appalachia.
Impact of the Appalachian Regional Commission in Georgia
The ARC covers 37 counties in Georgia and more than 3 million residents, a little less than one-third of the state population in 2013. Thirty-five of the 37 Georgia counties covered by the ARC—95 percent—voted for Trump in 2016. The counties fall into eight congressional districts—the 3rd, 4th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th, and 14th Districts—which are represented by Rep. Drew Ferguson (R), Rep. Hank Johnson (D), Rep. Rob Woodall (R), Rep. Doug Collins (R), Rep. Jody Hice (R), Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R), Rep. David Scott (D), and Rep. Tom Graves (R).
Without the ARC, Georgians would lose out on an average of 386 jobs and $10.7 million in added earnings every year. Here is the breakdown:
- Since its founding, the ARC has brought around 19,000 jobs to Georgia, invested $225.1 million in ARC funds, and led $525 million in increased earnings for Georgians.
- From October 2015 to January 2017, the ARC invested $4.8 million in 28 projects in Georgia and attracted an additional $134.5 million in private investments. These projects created or retained more than 1,900 jobs.
- Examples of ARC projects in Georgia include investments in early childhood education and job training for adults in several counties. ARC funds have also enabled the modernization of many health care clinics across the region and recently helped ensure water and sewer service to a new hospital in Franklin County.
At the ballot box, voters in Appalachia trusted Donald Trump to fight for their jobs and their communities as president. Cutting the ARC is an outright betrayal of Appalachian communities and would leave them without the funds to implement critical workforce, education, and infrastructure projects.
Sunny Frothingham is a Senior Researcher at the Center for American Progress.