Recently, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton sat down with Federal Co-Chair Gayle Conelly Manchin of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), via Zoom and filmed the twelfth episode in a video series called Critical Conversations. In this series, Scott talks with professionals about economic development issues affecting the state.
Manchin has served in many different roles throughout her career that have helped substantially improve education and workforce, primarily in West Virginia.
Gayle Conelly Manchin was sworn in as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s thirteenth federal co-chair on May 6, 2021, becoming the first ARC federal co-chair from West Virginia. Nominated by President Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Manchin works directly with ARC’s 13 member governors, their state alternates and program managers, and a network of local development districts to continue to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth throughout Appalachia.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development partner of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. In North Carolina, ARC serves 31 counties in the western part of our state.
Manchin has worked in K-12 and post secondary education. She has also served on numerous Boards and participated in many community service projects. Manchin shared that the original intent of ARC which was formed in 1965 was to provide highway infrastructure across the Appalachian region. She noted at that time, partnership and collaboration were not terms that were used often. ARC over the years has had a unique ability to help build strong partnerships and collaborations.
Manchin mentioned that ARC was just starting its long-term strategic planning process when she was appointed as Federal Co-Chair. The over 2,000 stakeholders provided a vision for the future of Appalachia and resulted in five strategic goals: Building Appalachian Businesses; Building Appalachia’s Workforce Ecosystem; Building Appalachia’s Infrastructure; Building Regional Culture and Tourism; and Building Community Leaders and Capacity.
ARC has three major funding opportunities: Area Development program, INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative, and the POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. Learn more about these by reading the Funder Spotlight: ARC, featured in the Golden LEAF Newsletter.
Golden LEAF’s and ARC’s focus on diversifying the economy through workforce training and job opportunities have led to co-funded projects. Both Golden LEAF and ARC have funded industrial parks in McDowell, Ashe, Burke counties. They also have supported projects through TROSA and Wilkes Recovery Revolution.
Manchin then described some of the qualities of a competitive ARC application. She mentioned that collaboration at the local level and state were critical before applying for funding from ARC. Manchin mentioned that ARC looks at the strategies to make the project work. She said that they consider the overall impact of the project and whether the project will create jobs. Another qualification includes the education and workforce training support systems for those jobs. Finally, ARC makes sure that the project is sustainable after ARC’s funding period ends.
Critical Conversations is a feature in the Golden LEAF newsletter every month. The next edition will be in our May 12th edition of LEAF Lines.