BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Thursday rallied bipartisan support to vote down an amendment to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2016 (H.R. 2028) that would have defunded a number of federal programs in Western Maryland. Amendment #3803 would have eliminated funding for several regional commissions including Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). ARC is a federal-state partnership that works with residents of Appalachia to create self-sustaining economic development and improve quality of life.
“The Appalachian Regional Commission has a relatively small budget but makes a big difference for many Marylanders in the western part of our state and to millions of people in the region,” said Senator Cardin. “ARC is unique because it combines the resources of the federal government with knowhow from people in the community. It is because of this unique and pragmatic approach to economic development that every federal dollar invested in ARC is matched by $7.60 in private investment. This impressive ratio translates directly to better employment opportunities, education, health care access, infrastructure and much more. I thank other senators, Republicans and Democrats, who came to the floor and voted to allow ARC to continue to carry out their important mission.”
In addition to ARC, amendment #3803 would have defunded the Delta Regional Authority, the Denali Commission, and the Northern Border Regional Commission. Senator Cardin was joined on by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ricker Wicker (R-Miss.). The amendment failed by a vote of 25-71.
- ARC’s purpose is to help close the economic gap between Appalachia and the rest of the nation, to bring the region’s 420 counties and 25 million people into the nation’s economic mainstream.
- From FY2011-FY2015, on average every $1 of ARC grant funds leveraged $7.60 of private investment.
- ARC targets its resources to the areas of greatest need. From FY2011-FY2015, almost 63% of ARC’s grant dollars went to support projects that primarily or substantially benefit economically distressed counties and areas.
- ARC is fully authorized with Congress approving a five-year reauthorization in December of 2015.
- A 2015 study commissioned by ARC found that over the period 1970–2012, employment and per capita income growth rates were higher in Appalachian counties, which received ARC investments, than in similar non-Appalachian counties that did not.
- A 2007 independent evaluation of 104 ARC infrastructure projects found that the $29.4 million ARC invested in these projects had led to the creation of 17,800 new jobs, resulted in a net expansion of $1.3 billion in personal income in Appalachia, and leveraged $1.7 billion in private sector investment.
- Since their creation in 1977, ARC-supported revolving loan funds have provided over $201 million in capital to small businesses across Appalachia, leveraged over $1.6 billion of other business investment, and resulted in the creation of more than 50,000 jobs and the retention of almost 51,000 jobs.
- ARC program investments totaled $365.4 million from FY2011-FY2015. Taken together these funds—
- leveraged over $839 million in other public investment
- attracted $2.8 billion in private investment
- resulted in 105,024 jobs being created or retained
- provided training and new skills to 108,630 students and worker/trainees