Trump budget would cut funding for Appalachian Regional Commission

Written by Katie Blackley/WESA | May 29, 2017 4:29 AM

FILE PHOTO: A "For Rent" sign is taped to a storefront window in the coal town of Welch, W.Va. For over a century, life in Central Appalachia has been largely defined by the ups and downs of the coal industry. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(Pittsburgh) -- An organization that helps fund infrastructure projects in rural Pennsylvania communities could be cut under President Donald Trump's proposed federal budget.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, or ARC, has been investing in 52 Pennsylvania counties -- including  eight in the midstate for more than 50 years -- for more than 50 years.

ARC is a partnership between the 13 Appalachian states and the federal government.

In Pennsylvania, the organization's projects range from building access highways to installing broadband networks.

According to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, private companies invested more than $58 million into the state after ARC implemented revitalization plans.

Lew Villotti with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission says small towns need this money to redevelop.

" We're not talking about investing in the city of Pittsburgh. We're talking about investing in places like New Kensington and Kittanning that have really struggled for years," he says. "We're doing everything we can to help continue to grow those, bring back life to those older communities with great bones."

Last year the ARC received $146-million from Congress, mostly to help in companies and workers affected by the decline in the coal industry.

In Pennsylvania, ARC is estimated to have created 12,000  jobs in the past two years.

Midstate counties considered a part of Appalachia are Columbia, Juniata, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder and Union.

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