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Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

The Appalachian Regional Commission ( is a federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life. The commission is a unique alliance composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a presidential appointee representing the federal government. Governor Haslam serves on the board; the Governor’s Alternate for Tennessee is Ted Townsend, and the Program Manager is Brooxie Carlton. Through ARC, Tennessee is able to award grants each year for economic and community development projects in the 52 counties in middle and east Tennessee served by the ARC.


Funding Levels

The amount of ARC funding depends on the level of appropriations from Congress and the allocation formula for each program approved by the states and the federal co-chairman. Each state receives an allocation of funds and does not compete with other states. In fiscal 2013, Tennessee's allocation of ARC funds for community and economic development funds was as follows:

  • Area Development: $3,330,000
  • Distressed Counties: $2,713,000
  • Local Development Districts: $481,000



There is more flexibility in the utilization of ARC funds than in most other federally funded programs. The primary reason for this is ARC's institutional structure, in which the states have a meaningful role to play in establishing the priorities and implementing regulations and are the originators of grant applications. In addition to this, it is possible to request a waiver of regulations when these prevent a particular grant from being approved



Each state establishes its own priorities for the use of ARC funds in the non-highway program. Highway funds are earmarked for specific highways by congressional action, and the administrative money for the development districts is earmarked for that purpose.

Within Tennessee, the first priority for the use of ARC funds is the economic development projects where water, wastewater, rail, etc. are provided to a locating or expanding industry. The second priority is for the provision of basic water and wastewater service in rural areas where such services are missing or inadequate. A third priority, "opportunity projects", is the ability of the governor to respond to unique problems or opportunities that are presented by a community.



For more information about the ARC Grant Program, please contact Brooxie Carlton at (615) 741-8806 or


Program Operation

ARC Planning

The current ARC Strategic Plan has the following goals:

  1. Increase job opportunities and per capita income in Appalachia to reach parity with the rest of the nation.
  2. Strengthen the capacity of the people of Appalachia to compete in the global economy.
  3. Develop and improve Appalachia's infrastructure to make the region economically competitive.
  4. Build the Appalachian Development Highway System to reduce Appalachia's isolation.


Future ARC programs and ARC projects will be measured by whether they help meet these goals. The goals are broadly stated, and many different types of activities are eligible. However, there are restrictions on types of programs, projects, funding levels, length of support, etc. placed on the activities through the ARC Code.


Tennessee also has a State Plan and an annual Strategy Statement. Each application for funding must address one of the goals in the State Plan and/or Strategy Statement as well as be an eligible activity under ARC guidelines.

Click here for the 2014 Strategy Statement

Click here for the 2014 ARC Pre_application


Distressed Counties/Other Counties

Currently, the non-highway program is in two parts, with separate allocations, as noted above. The area development program operates in all 52 Tennessee ARC counties. The distressed counties program is a reservation that can only be used in the distressed counties. The distressed counties for fiscal year 2014 include Bledsoe, Campbell, Clay, Cocke, Fentress, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Johnson, Lewis, Meigs, Monroe, Pickett, Scott, Van Buren and White.


Ineligible Projects

The following projects are ineligible in both the area development program and the distressed counties program: 

  • Any activity (construction or otherwise) in connection with libraries, cultural centers or day-use recreational facilities.
  • Construction of hospitals or governmental office buildings.
  • Construction of community centers or social service facilities, unless they are eligible under the distressed counties program.


Grant Cycles

Pre-applications are accepted in the fall. The pre-application will be released at the beginning of October and due at the end of October for the 2014 fiscal year. Please contact Brooxie Carlton for more information on the availability of applications.


Recommended project applications are submitted to Washington by June 30. Most applications are approved during the months of July and August and must be approved by September 30.


Funding Limitations

The federal legislation limits total federal funding to no more than 80% of the project cost. For at-risk counties, ARC funding is 70%. For transitional counties, ARC funding is limited to 50%.


Highway Program

The ARC highway program is operated by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Eligible highways are designated by the U.S. Congress, and this designation may not be altered by the states. Various highway segments are prioritized by the states and the federal co-chairman and are constructed as funds become available.