The Appalachian Regional Commission has stated its next five-year strategic plan will increase emphasis on economic and community development efforts. In order to fully implement the best course of action to move Appalachia forward, the ARC will be seeking input from a variety of stakeholders, including community members, local government and nonprofit employees, and students.
ARC will host five listening sessions throughout the region in order to glean some of that input. The sessions will take place in Forest City, N.C., Starkville, Miss., Morehead, Ky., Altoona, Penn., and Morgantown, W.V. Sessions are free and open to the public, and a “broad range” of citizens are encouraged to attend. Each session will be from 10am to 3pm, with lunch provided. Those wishing to attend do have to register, though.
This is only the first opportunity during which stakeholders in Appalachian Transition can share and discuss their ideas about opportunities in the region (there will also be focus groups with development leaders and a public online survey), but it is a very important step in the right direction for the 50-year-old federal agency. If this next strategic plan for the ARC is to guide the agency’s investments in development in the region, then of course they should be seeking input about how to design such a plan.
The ARC listening sessions are yet another opportunity for everyday Appalachians to share their thoughts, vision and hopes for the future of the region – something they have so often not been invited to do. We hope they won’t let it pass them by.
UPDATE: The public is now invited to take part in an ARC survey about its 2015 strategic plan. You can find the survey here.