ARC’s History and Work in Appalachia

Image Courtesy of The Charleston Gazette

In 1963, the Conference of Appalachian Governors asked President John F. Kennedy to create a presidential commission to coordinate federal, state, and local action in addressing the Region’s needs. In response, President Kennedy formally convened the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission (PARC), a body of state governors and Cabinet-level officials to address persistent economic disparities in the Region in comparison to the rest of the nation. PARC’s mission was to draw up “a comprehensive program for the economic development of the Appalachian Region.”

PARC’s work informed the Appalachian Regional Development Act (ARDA) which passed Congress with overwhelming bi-partisan support. When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed ARDA into public law on March 9, 1965, ARC was formally established as a unique federal-state partnership committed to strengthening Appalachia’s economy and helping the Region’s 13 states achieve economic parity with the rest of the Nation.

Congress finds and declares that the Appalachian region of the United States, while abundant in natural resources and rich in potential, lags behind the rest of the Nation in its economic growth and that its people have not shared properly in the Nation’s prosperity.

The Appalachian Regional Development Act, 1965

Decades of Investing in Regional Economic Growth

ARC’s nimble structure and flexibility allows the Commission to responsively meet the Region’s economic needs as they evolve over time. One of ARC’s first tasks was to coordinate construction of 3,090 miles of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) to connect the Region with the National Highway System and open up market opportunities. While continuing to work with federal and state partners to maintain ADHS, ARC’s investment strategy now includes additional infrastructure and workforce development projects as outlined in the current Strategic Plan.

Since 1965, ARC has invested $4.5 billion in approximately 28,000 economic development projects across Appalachia, attracting over $10 billion in matching project funds.

Additional Resources