- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (AP) - The Appalachian Regional Commission has begun developing a new strategic plan that will be put into place in 2016.

Agency spokesman Louis Segesvary told the Middlesboro Daily News (https://bit.ly/1wBlLTc) that the ARC plans to seek input from a variety of sources as the plan is drafted.

Along with ARC staff, officials from Appalachian states and members of the Appalachian Region’s local development districts, conversations are being planned with economic development professionals, business owners, government professionals, civic leaders, educators and students.

The plan will identify the agency’s mission, its long-term goals and strategies for how to meet them and ways to monitor progress.

Segesvary said the plan will guide actions by ARC and its federal, state, and local partners toward bringing Appalachia into full economic parity with the nation.

“It will outline goals and objectives that provide guidance for priorities based on considerable research, extensive input from a variety of stakeholders, and consensus on priority goals and emerging opportunities for action. The plan will create a framework for building on past accomplishments to help Appalachia move forward,” he said.

Every year, ARC provides funding for hundreds of projects in the Appalachian region that seek to make improvements in areas such as business development, education and job training.

The agency indicated in a request for proposals that it wants to see more economic diversity in the region in the future.

“The Appalachian Region has historically been dominated by a few industries, such as mining, textiles, tobacco, and timber,” ARC said in a request for proposals. “This is particularly true in its most economically distressed counties. Dependence on these industries as economic drivers and employers has left many communities vulnerable to economic fluctuations.”

The focus will be on activities that have a high rate of return on investment such as renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and tourism.

The ARC lists 54 counties in Kentucky, and 37 of those are considered distressed.

Segesvary said the agency plans to get feedback from the public before the plan is finalized next year.

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Information from: The Daily News, https://www.middlesborodailynews.com

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