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The Trump Budget: Harming North Carolinians in Appalachia
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The Trump Budget: Harming North Carolinians in Appalachia

President Trump’s proposal to dissolve the Appalachian Regional Commission would cost North Carolina millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs.

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Western North Carolina mountains are seen from a lookout on the Blue Ridge Parkway on October 21, 2016. (AP/Bruce Smith)
Western North Carolina mountains are seen from a lookout on the Blue Ridge Parkway on October 21, 2016. (AP/Bruce Smith)

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 western North Carolina, ARC funds support an average of 425 jobs and $11.7 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 North Carolina

The ARC covers 29 counties in western North Carolina and an estimated 1.7 million North Carolinians. Twenty-six of the 29 counties covered by the ARC—90 percent—voted for Trump in 2016. Most of these counties fall into three congressional districts—the 11th, 5th, and 10th Districts—which are represented by Rep. Mark Meadows (R), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R), and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R).

Without the ARC, North Carolinians would lose out on an average of 425 jobs and $11.7 million in added earnings every year. Here is the breakdown:

  • Since its founding, the ARC has brought more than 20,000 jobs, invested $240 million, and led to $574 million in increased earnings for North Carolinians.
  • From 2008 to 2012 alone, 134 ARC projects in North Carolina created 1,627 jobs and retained 3,686 jobs.
  • From October 2015 to January 2017, the ARC invested $7.3 million in 68 projects in North Carolina and attracted an additional $42 million in private investments. These projects created or retained more than 1,200 jobs and provided education and training for more than 1,400 students and workers.
  • Examples of ARC projects in North Carolina include developing a business corridor in Canton, helping the Wilkes County Schools purchase laptops to teach computer skills, and a renovation at the Tri-County Community College to provide the only nurse assistance training program in the area.

Conclusion

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.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

Authors

Sunny Frothingham

Senior Researcher

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