Washington, D.C.– The Appalachian region has long faced daunting challenges of poverty and geographic isolation. Despite improvements and decades of state and federal efforts, many communities in the Appalachian region are still being left behind.
The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Appalachia Initiative today released a paper, Appalachia Initiative: A Bipartisan Approach for the 21st Century, to chart a bipartisan approach to boost prosperity and economic growth in the region. Led by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), David Perdue (R-GA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Thom Tillis (R-NC), the paper conveys the scope of need for federal support, state and local coordination, and partnerships with businesses and academic institutions.
The result is 19 bipartisan recommendations designed to address the region’s most pressing economic needs.
The senators partnered with BPC to convene regional and national stakeholders to capture solutions centered on four critical themes: education and workforce, entrepreneurism and job creation, energy and infrastructure, and rural health. Each senator led one of the four policy roundtables.
Warner, who led on education and workforce: “Lifelong education and worker training—not just to get a job but to hold one—are key building blocks for sustainable economic development in Appalachia. We should focus on ideas that are proven to work, helping people to successfully acquire the skills that create opportunity for the region.”
Perdue, who led on entrepreneurism and job creation: “The economic miracle we witnessed over the last 70 years was built on innovation and capital formation. We must encourage innovators to stay and invest in Appalachia to help spark growth in the region.”
Manchin, who led on energy and infrastructure: “We must take advantage of the region’s abundant energy resources and economic opportunities while working to overcome our infrastructure challenges. With the right investments and smart policy, we can benefit from the energy transition now underway, as well as build and modernize transportation, water and sewer, and broadband infrastructure for the next century.”
Tillis, who led on rural health: “To reach communities in Appalachia experiencing poor health outcomes, we will need creative partnerships that leverage federal, state, local, and private resources to ensure that both clinical and community-based services are available to those who need them most.”
The 19 solutions offered by the report will be used by the senators to engage Congress, the Trump administration, local leaders and the private sector to find common ground on many of the issues challenging the Appalachia region.