One wonders how the members of the Appalachian Regional Commission came to terms with their utter and intentional failure to do what the agency was created to do nearly 60 years ago. It seems that the CRA had no trouble forgetting that it was supposed to “innovate, partner and invest to build community capacity and enhance economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socio-economic parity with the nation.”
Socio-economic parity has become an afterthought, as the commission has become just another bureaucratic monster designed to sustain itself and leave us even further behind. Now the ARC is launching another “funding opportunity” – $2 million in total available for all 423 Appalachian counties for ARC Local Development Districts to “hire additional staff and build local capacity to make the best use of available federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and other sources,” the commission boasts.
“ARC’s partnership with local development districts in Appalachia is key to our success and the success of the region,” said CRA Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “By supporting their ability to build community capacity through our READY LDD opportunity, Appalachian LDD will be better equipped to use the funding to mobilize more partnerships, develop strong community leaders, and better extend the reach of their programs to our local communities. more economically disadvantaged and marginalized. , leveling the playing field to ensure Appalachia not only survives but thrives.
If that reads like a bunch of nothing, it is. Again, we’re talking about $2 million spread all over Appalachia (this amount would be stretched only in West Virginia and Ohio), to hire people who will make their region even more dependent on federal funding. It doesn’t really seem to be prospering. It sounds like the way things have been in Appalachia for generations, during which we never seem to go anywhere but backwards.
The historical amounts of federal funding mentioned by the CRA will not be available forever (nor should they be); and in the meantime, it would be much more advantageous for the region if the commission devoted itself to improving those socio-cultural elements that are holding us back; and moving from dependence and exploitation to entrepreneurship and economic diversification.
It would be nice, in short, if the CRA were working in a time when it can no longer convince those handing out taxpayers’ money that it is needed.