Your Ideas on Appalachia’s Economic Future

The Appalachian Regional Development Initiative is the name of a new effort aimed at exploring “what the Federal Government can do to promote stronger and more diversified Appalachian economies.” In particular, the initiative seeks to better coordinate resources from a wide variety of federal agencies that could be directed to Appalachian development, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Labor, and the Small Business Administration in addition to the Appalachian Regional Commission.

This initiative comes out of a White House Council on Environmental Quality announcement last summer related to a new approach to dealing with mountaintop removal mining. The press release ended with this paragraph:

The Federal agencies will also work in coordination with appropriate regional, state, and local entities to help diversify and strengthen the Appalachian regional economy and promote the health and welfare of Appalachian communities. This interagency effort will have a special focus on stimulating clean enterprise and green jobs development, encouraging better coordination among existing federal efforts, and supporting innovative new ideas and initiatives.

The initiative has been holding listening sessions in the region this spring, and has now launched a website to allow public comment on ideas for community and economic development in the region.

This presents a critical opportunity to put forward new ideas and to call on the federal government to make Appalachian transition a real priority. While it is yet to be seen how seriously the administration will take this initiative, doing more in this area would be an appropriate complement to yesterday’s announcement about mountaintop removal. Please help make it a priority by joining in the conversation and submitting your ideas.

Jason Bailey

About Jason Bailey

Jason Bailey is Director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and serves as Research and Policy Director of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.