Appalachian Regional Commission Government Waste

by Lewis Loflin

Update: President Trump's budget zeros out money for the Appalachian Regional Commission an out of date and wasteful agency that needs to end.

The ARC has spent countless millions in the region producing very little for the average citizen needing a good job and economic opportunity - forget badly needed services. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (Oct, 27, 2016 Kingsport Times-News) illustrates the nonsense that goes on here. $31 million will be mostly wasted under something called "Federal Partnership for Opportunity and Economic Revitilazation (POWER) initiative" with $6.6 million to be porked out across a 25 county area around Southwest Virginia.

This will not produce a single job for a displaced coal mine or factory worker, but as usual is a jobs programs for affluent and connected white collar elites and social engineers. One of the most asinine I've seen is:

In Southwest Virginia, the largess includes $2.22 million to the Wise County Industrial Authority for the Virginia Emerging Drone Industry Cluster Project, intended to position five Southwest Virginia counties as "an epicenter" for drone R&D work, according to McAuliffe. The award will also assist Mountain Empire Community College to offer courses to operate drones and drone sensors for commercial and government applications.

Drones??? What drone industry? Those can be done anywhere, why in the world would such an industry locate to such a remote region? It sounds like another scam to leverage taxpayer handouts to some unknown company (they refuse to disclose who). This has gone on for years with no permanent results.

MECC established an unmanned aerial systems (UAS) segment to its programs about a year ago. On Wednesday, McAuliffe said the ARC award will train 64 new workers, leverage an additional $15 million in additional investment, and enable a private aerospace company to work on a major contract, with an eye toward the creation of 210 new and indirect jobs.

64 workers to do what and for who? Can I get a list of those jobs? In other words a government contractors getting more free stuff, if they even come here.

From MECC:

Big Stone Gap - Mountain Empire Community College will offer the region’s only college credit course in drone technology this fall. AVI-195 Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems will cover the principles of building, programming and flying drones. Students will receive hands-on training in quadcopter design and construction as well as learn to fly both assisted and unassisted FPV (First Person View) quadcopters. The class will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 8:45 p.m., August 31 to December 15. To register, contact MECC’s Enrollment Service Office at 276.523.7474 or visit


MECC to Offer Class in Drone Technology

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College is seeking small business owners/operators who are interested in learning more about how Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) can be used to improve their business operations. UAVs are enabling construction, agriculture, real estate, reclamation, surveying, videography, security, EMS, and many more businesses to carry out operations more efficiently.

Businesses can utilize UAVs to offer clients new and exciting services, to attract new clientele, and to stay on top of their competition. MECC will offer a college credit course in drone technology focusing on UAV use in business operations. AVI-195 Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems will cover the UAV history, uses, design, assembly, programming, legality, mission planning and operations, maintenance, and flight. The class will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 8:45 p.m. For more information, or to register, contact MECC's Enrollment Service Office at 276-523-7474 or visit

Now I get it, in a region where we have few jobs, local business will be encouraged to hire drone operators! Perhaps they can deliver pizzas by drone! Burger King might also be hiring drone operators! The only jobs this creates is for the grant recipients.

Others in the region include more than $1.4 million to the Southwest Virginia Regional Cybersecurity Initiative and include MECC, The University of Virginia's College at Wise and Southwest Virginia Community College.

That award seeks to create a certification/credential program aligned with industry needs and National Security Agency guidelines. Program goals include expanding the existing cybersecurity program at UVa-Wise via an accelerator space to assist companies to co-locate R&D activities. That project envisions training 161 new workers and retaining 110 jobs.

This is a lot like an earlier multi-million dollar IT training program that was supposed to train workers for Northrop-Grumman in Russell County that promised a thousand new jobs, but instead ended up being a few call center jobs. There is no evidence of any substantial IT employment in Russell County and information on the project, which is a state contract, is barred from public discloser.

And more of the usual tourism pork-barrel waste:

Also in Southwest Virginia, a $3 million grant will go to Friends of Southwest Virginia in Abingdon for the Building Appalachian Spring: Growing the Economy of Southwest Virginia project. The funds would develop new access points for the New River, provide a 4,000-square-foot Gateway Center to the High Knob Recreation Area in Wise and Scott counties, and create a 30-mile multi-use trail connecting Breaks Interstate Park to downtown Haysi's business district, among other tourism related projects.

Finally in Southwest Virginia, a $14,214 grant to Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia's Artisan Network to provide grant writing assistance to raise funds for the creation of a regional craft beverage cluster to strengthen Virginia's agriculture industry and tourism in the region, and build off an extensive network cultivated by the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation.

The region is awash in fiber optic, which is a nice utility, but has had no impact they are willing to state on job creation:

Tennessee projects to share in the overall grant awards include $400,000 Erwin Utilities in Erwin for the Temple Hill and Bumpus Cove project to install 35 miles of fiber optic cable, serving 680 households and 30 businesses and help spur the needs of the tourism industry in that area.

You mean tourists will come here to use fiber optic? What do we need this nonsense for? There's already a nearby Bush cannery:

A $353,086 grant goes to the town of Unicoi for the Mountain Harvest Kitchen Incubator and Entrepreneurial Training Program. The funds will help purchase equipment for a shared use commercial kitchen where value added processing of locally harvested products will take place.

So now I can my garden produce and sell it on the side of the road. We have several "incubators" that have produced nothing. More college professor jobs, nothing for working people:

A grant of more than $1.5 million goes to Marion County, Tenn., for the Marion County Regional Center for Higher Education Phase II & III Project, to construct a 30,000-square-foot educational facility to house new technology and industrial training programs.

A wildlife center? We already use reclaimed mine land in a number of projects, what is this supposed to prove? The 19 acres isn't worth a fraction of this money:

Among the grant awards in Kentucky, $1.8 million goes to the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation Inc. in Corbin for the Appalachian Wildlife Center Infrastructure Project. The funds will be used to provide water infrastructure at the center's future site, located on 19 acres of reclaimed mine land — as a conservation education and research facility, and feature the largest elk restoration and viewing effort in the U.S.

$1.8 million to view elk??? I can view those from my house for free. To quote government hacks:

"Each of the Virginia POWER grants announced today takes us one step closer to building the new Virginia economy," McAuliffe said. "From the tourism and agriculture industries to drone technology and cybersecurity, we must do everything we can to leverage our homegrown assets and create opportunity and economic diversification in our coalfield regions...These federal investments will enable Appalachia's coal impacted communities to continue their work developing innovative paths towards economic resilience...They will directly support the region's emerging industries that are making Appalachia America's next great investment opportunity."

What happened to the millions of previous investments in "emerging industries"? Can I see a list of those other than jobs for state agencies?

It's time to defund and end the ARC as the government waste it is.

What does all of this have in common? 1) money goes to benefit the elite, not the workers or those struggling. 2) Doesn't consider reality in the region as it exists. These ideas are based on academic studies by people that know nothing about the region or the people that live here. 3) Most programs are designed to leverage additional grants going to the same closed circle of professionals and political hacks.

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