ARC is an economic development partnership between the federal government and the governors of thirteen states that works with the 23 million people in the Appalachian community in an effort to positively impact their lives. Its specific goals include increasing job opportunities, per capita income, and community development programs; improving the region’s infrastructure to make it economically competitive; promoting strategies aimed at closing socioeconomic gaps through education and workforce training; and building the Appalachian Development Highway System to fully connect the region to the nation’s transportation grid.
In the 1950s one of every three Appalachians lived in poverty and per capita income in the region was 23 per cent lower than the U.S. average. In 1960 the Conference of Appalachian Governors was formed by the heads of states in the region and in 1961 they approached President John F. Kennedy to ask for federal assistance. In 1963 he formed a federal-state committee that became known as the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission (PARC) and directed it to draw up “a comprehensive program for the economic development” of the area. The result of the PARC’s efforts was outlined in anApril 1964 report
which President Lyndon B. Johnson used as the basis for legislation developed with the bipartisan support of Congress. It was submitted in 1964 and theAppalachian Regional Development Act (ARDA)
became law in March 1965, establishing ARC as a sustained national regional development program, and including authorization for several new entities, including the Appalachian Development Highway System, health, nutrition, childcare, and low-income housing projects, and entrepreneurship and telecommunications and technology initiatives.
In their FY 2012 budget recommendations, Republicans proposed eliminating the ARC, noting that the agency’s removal would save the federal government $76 million. President Barack Obama retained the ARC in both his FY 2012 and FY 2013 budget proposals.
In nominating Earl F. Gohl, Jr. to serve as the next federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, President Barack Obama played up Gohl’s years of experience in Pennsylvania state and local government. Left out of the November 16, 2009, announcement was the fact Gohl has also worked as a lobbyist for Puerto Rico in Washington, DC, and that his wife is a prominent leader of a union representing federal employees.
A longtime Kentucky politician whose career began in the mid-1970s, Steven Lynn Beshear serves as co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for 2011, along with his duties as governor of his state. Created in 1965, the ARC is an economic development partnership between the Federal government and the governors of the thirteen states in the Appalachian region. The president of the United States chooses one co-chair and the governors chose the other. Beshear represents the states.