Programs in eastern Kentucky and central Appalachia have received $17 million dollars from the ARC

Republished from WEKU.

Programs in central Appalachia have received $17 million dollars from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The money comes from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. $7.7 million dollars of the money will be put towards training and placing new community health workers to strengthen the region’s behavioral healthcare systems.

Gayle Manchin is the ARC federal co-chair. She said the need in the area is great because this was epicenter of the opioid epidemic.

“You have a lot of displaced workers, you have a lot of people in pain because of the work they did. You have communities that have completely lost their sense of hope, that there’s no way they’re ever going to come back, that is where you find drugs flourish, and they did.”

 $9.3 million dollars was awarded to the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation and the Cumberland Trails Conference.

Manchin said improving outdoor tourism is important because the landscape in southeastern Kentucky and central Appalachia makes other forms of industry difficult.

“It is a very rugged area, and to try and attract an industry, maybe try to build a factory, is just not sustainable and it probably isn’t going to happen. But, you work with your greatest asset and that is the beauty of this land.”

This money is designated to help develop a wastewater treatment plant and other necessary site preparation infrastructure for Boone’s Ridge, a new outdoor recreation and education destination located on former mine land near the Cumberland Gap National Park.

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Originally published by WEKU.

Republished with permission.