Southeast Tourism Society Statement onFederal Funding for theAppalachian Regional CommissionThe Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a vital partner to thetourism sectorin developing community strategies for building a sustainable economic future in 420 counties over 13 states. Leveraging Appalachia’s rich, distinctive heritage and abundant natural resources, ARC’s programs area significant contributorto strengtheningtherole of tourism as akey economic driver throughout region.
Of the 13 Appalachianstates, nineare in the Southeast: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina,South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginiaand West Virginia.ARC supports a diverse yet focused array of tourism projects, including: building and rehabilitating facilities and infrastructure to make Appalachia more accessible and attractive to visitors; training artisans and artists to improve their business and marketingskills; developing strategic plans and feasibility studies to help communities maximize the potential of their cultural assets; and investing in new technologies that create new experiences for visitors. All of ARC’s tourism projects are designed to build the long-term economic health of the region.
With a mission to innovate, partner and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia, ARC was established by an act of Congress in 1965.ARC is a regional economic developmentagency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. The commission is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the President of the United States. Local participation is provided through multi-county local development districts. ARC’s tourism program is guided by an advisory council of representatives from all 13 Appalachian states and works to leverage regional collaboration to increase tourism to Appalachia.
Over five decades, the ARChas had a significant impact on the economic health of Appalachia. In 1960 the region’s poverty rate was 31 percent, in 2014 it was 17.2 percent. But much work remains to ensure the economic gains are widespread and economic opportunities are fully leveraged.
Southeast Tourism Society calls on Congress and the Presidentof the United Statesto fully fund this critical federal partnership in recognition ofthe vital role ARC plays in job creation, economic growth, and strengthening local communities.
Information on ARC’s impact by state can be found here.