Flooding in Breathitt County, July 2022. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)
Representatives from across Appalachia will convene in Ashland Sept. 11-12 for the Appalachian Regional Commission’s annual conference.
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear announced the location, theme and date at the Delta Hotel in Downtown Ashland on Tuesday. He was joined by the commission’s federal co-chair Gayle Manchin.
The conference theme is “Appalachia Rises: Resilience, Strength & Transformation.” An ARC media advisory said this year’s event will feature partners throughout the region “who work daily to strengthen the region by creating and expanding workforce development, growing sectors like outdoor recreation, developing entrepreneurs, and building leadership and community capacity.”
Beshear said the conference will support efforts to improve the lives of Appalachian families. He noted the collaboration that followed following devastating floods last summer, including support for recovery efforts in Eastern Kentucky from the National Guards of Ohio and West Virginia.
“I have said this is going to be the toughest rebuild in the history of the United States, but it happened to the toughest people,” the governor said. “The strength and spirit of our people is extraordinary, and because of that strength and resiliency, we will see a brighter future. We will rebuild every home and every life no matter how long it takes. This is what ARC is all about.”
Earlier this year, Beshear was elected by governors in other ARC member states to serve as the state co-chair of the commission for 2023. He is the first from Kentucky since 2015, when his father and then-Gov. Steve Beshear held the position.
Manchin expressed gratitude for those working to prepare Ashland for the conference later this year. President Biden appointed her to her role in 2021.
“It will allow us to connect with all 13 of our states,” Manchin said of the upcoming conference. “It will allow to bring us together to talk about new ideas, to share best practices, to brag on what we’re doing in our communities, but most importantly to share that camaraderie that we all love, the family, the people, the opportunity that we have each been given to give back, to work together, and again, to bring our Appalachian region to parity.
A press release from Beshear’s office said ARC opened a call for conference programming Tuesday. Submissions are due April 21. Details about registration and programs will be released this summer.
The ARC is a federal economic development agency for 13 states. It serves 423 counties in the region.
Last year, Kentucky received more than $51 million from the ARC for projects such as a water treatment plant, a steel manufacturing facility in Middlesboro and improvements at Breaks Interstate Park in Pike County.
Located in northeastern Kentucky, Ashland is in the Tri-State Area of Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.
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