A weekly email from the Appalachian Regional Commission
In the Region: A weekly snapshot of news, announcements, and other tidbits from the Appalachian Regional Commission
ARC NEWS ROUNDUP  |  September 6, 2018  |  VOLUME 3, ISSUE 35


Image of Jeff Whitehead, Executive Director, EKCEP
The 2018 SOAR Summit, titled There is A Future in Appalachiafeatured stories of innovation and investment across eastern Kentucky.

SOAR Believes There is a Future in Eastern Kentucky

“One of my first trips as ARC Federal Co-Chair was to come to Pikeville to visit with SOAR leadership. I wanted to see first-hand what the relationship between SOAR and ARC looked like. I wanted to understand how it was working and what were we—SOAR and eastern Kentucky—getting for our ongoing investments,” ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas told an audience of 1,100 community stakeholders at the annual Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Summit in Pikeville, Kentucky, last week. “It only took a few minutes for me to see that everything I had been hearing about was true.”  

Since SOAR was founded in 2013, ARC has supported the organization’s mission to expand job creation and enhance regional opportunity in Appalachian Kentucky. SOAR’s primary goal and strategy is to form strong partnerships and networks across eastern Kentucky’s 54 counties to make the area more attractive to private and public investments in broadband, workforce development, industry, health, agriculture and tourism. There are over 200 partners in the SOAR network. Several of them—including the Kentucky College of Optometry, the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), FAHE, and  the Appalachian Wildlife Center—have received ARC support through the POWER Initiative to strengthen the economy in Appalachia’s coal impacted communities. 

“I believe there is a future in Appalachia. Indeed, everywhere I go, especially in eastern Kentucky, I see private sector investments, regional collaborations, innovative partnerships, and workforce opportunities. I see creativity, energy, and optimism,” said Thomas last week as he pledged $100,000 in ARC support for SOAR. “Much of this has to do with SOAR’s leadership and vision.” 


JAG Image
High School students in Anderson, South Carolina have used JAG programming to stay in school and learn new skills.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Edge in Appalachia

For nearly a decade, ARC has been working with Jobs for America Graduates (JAG) a state-based national organization dedicated to preventing educational dropouts and helping students continue their schooling or acquire marketable job skills. The ARC-JAG partnership began in South Carolina in 2010 via the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). Since then, JAG-SC has touched nearly 600 students in four schools. This includes providing over 80 students at Spartanburg High School with skills training, career counseling, community service, and academic support which has also contributed to the school’s rising graduation rates. The JAG-SC program in Greenville County received the highest national JAG award for exceeding all standards related to graduation, job placement, and further education. These students had an average 96 percent or higher return-to-school rate and a 94 percent or higher graduation rate. Most recently, Anderson School District Five is using ARC support to expand introductory JAG services to two junior high schools while continuing work in the District’s high schools. 

ARC is also investing in JAG programming in two other states. Using ARC funds, JAG programming in West Virginia expanded from two to ten high schools in five years and is looking toward expanding its services to work with differently-able students. Meanwhile, JAG Mississippi has leveraged ARC investments to attract over $600,000 from foundations and other investors to serve over 900 students in Appalachian Mississippi schools. 


ARC Seeks Proposals to Continue Health Research

ARC is accepting proposals to  synthesize the findings of the health research initiative "Creating a Culture of Health: Disparities and Bright Spots," identify health challenges in Appalachia, and recommend practical strategies and actions to address those challenges. ARC is also accepting proposals for a separate project to conduct an assessment of the Appalachian Diabetes Control and Translation Project, a network of community-based health coalitions that use local action to prevent and control diabetes in Appalachia's economically distressed counties. Both proposals due September 14, 2018. Read the RFPs.

ARC Seeks Proposals to Create the Appalachian Leadership Institute

Help create the Appalachian Leadership Institute! ARC is accepting proposals from partners to develop a leadership program preparing state and local leaders to work for future improvements in the Region. Proposals due October 19, 2018. Read the RFP.


ARC is recruiting for Director, Division of Business and Talent Investment. This new leadership position will manage plan, develop, and evaluate ARC investments in accordance with the agency's strategic plan. Learn more about this position and other job opportunities at ARC.


Cleveland Gets Grant to Update Water Line, White County News, Cleveland, Georgia
From traditional farms to niche growing operations, agriculture evolves to meet demand, confront challenges, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Eastern Kentucky gets millions for factory, water project. What those projects mean, Lexington Herald Leader, Lexington, Kentucky
Responding to the workforce needs of employers along I-77, Education NC, Raleigh, North Carolina

15 West Virginia counties considered economically distressed, Associated Press, Charleston, West Virginia


Women & Technology Conference
Charleston, West Virginia
September 10

Appalachian Regional Commission Meeting
Tupleo, Mississippi
September 12

Appalachia Works: ARC Annual Conference
Tupleo, Mississippi
September 12–14

Brushy Fork Annual Institute
Berea, Kentucky
September 18–20

National Brownfields Leadership Summit
Washington, DC
September 25–26

EntreEd Forum
Pittsburgh, PA
September 28–30

7th TransTech Energy (TTE) Business Development Conference
Canonsburg, Pennsylvania
October 23–24
Map of the Appalachian Region

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.
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