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 Maryland’s three Appalachian counties, ARC funds support an average of 218 jobs and $7.0 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 Maryland
The ARC covers just three counties in Maryland—Allegany, Garrett, and Washington—but provides a crucial lifeline for the 252,000 Marylanders who live there. All three counties voted for Trump in 2016, and they fall into Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, which is represented by Rep. John Delaney (D).
Without the ARC, Appalachian Marylanders would lose out on an average of 218 jobs and $7.0 million in added earnings every year. Here is the breakdown:
- Since its founding, the ARC has brought more than 10,000 jobs, invested $131.3 million, and led to $345.1 million in increased earnings for Appalachian Marylanders.
- From October 2015 to January 2017, the ARC invested $2.6 million in 20 projects in Maryland and attracted an additional $10.4 million in private investments. These projects provided training and education for more than 1,600 students and workers and brought broadband internet to every school in Allegany County.
- Ten years ago, the ARC helped launch the Evergreen Heritage Center and has since ensured the center’s ability to grow. Each year, the center provides outdoor and experiential learning opportunities for hundreds of students.
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.