To the Editor:
I would like to share how the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) impacts the 10- county Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association’s (OMEGA) region. Our district serves the residents of Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Muskingum and Tuscarawas counties.
The federal ARC plays a key role in fostering economic development and improving the quality of life for the 23 million people who live in the 13-state Appalachian region (including Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania). Since the program’s inception, the region’s poverty rate has been cut in half (from 31 percent to 13 percent), the infant mortality rate has been reduced by two-thirds and the percentage of adults with a high school education has increased by more than 70 percent.
Each year the ARC program provides funding for business development, health care, education and job training, telecommunications, energy, infrastructure, community development, and transportation projects. ARC funding assists in creating thousands of new jobs; improving local water and sewer systems; increasing school readiness; expanding access to health care; assisting local communities with strategic planning; and providing technical and managerial assistance to emerging businesses.
Last year across Ohio’s 32 county designated Appalachia region, the federal ARC program funded 36 projects that created 639 jobs and retained 12,226 more.
It is important to note Ohio is the ONLY state in the region that currently matches federal project funding with state funding to ensure the monies go even further toward serving the region. In the OMEGA district alone, FY09 proved to be another highly successful year; the state and federal ARC program funded 21 projects that created 270 jobs and helped to retain another 6,923. Without the state ARC program, many of these vital projects in the region would not have been able to move forward.
It is without doubt that the residents in Appalachia Ohio greatly benefit from the state and federal Appalachian Regional Commission program.
OMEGA Executive Director