$500 Million Heading to Ohio’s Appalachian Region

by J.D. Davidson


Ohioans in the state’s Appalachian region can expect a half billion-dollar investment after Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill that dedicates federal funds to infrastructure, health care and work force development.

The $500 million, which is on top of more than $645 million sent to the region since 2019, is twice as much as this year’s entire Appalachian Regional Commission budget. The commission covers 13 states.

“We have stepped up in a big way for Appalachia,” DeWine said. “Our investments in this region to date have included water infrastructure, broadband, and other efforts to help get these counties on even footing. And now, thanks to the help of the Ohio General Assembly, we will do more.”

The funds, which come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and were approved recently by the General Assembly, include a $50 million planning phase for communities and regional partnerships to develop ideas that incorporate each of the three funding priorities. Following the planning, $450 million in grants would be given to help carry out qualifying projects.

The infrastructure piece of the plan includes money for downtown redevelopments, while the health care part deals with investments in school- or community-based services to address physical and behavioral health.

The work force development effort includes public-private partnerships to build and coordinate job training.

Also, House Bill 377 includes $422 million in ARPA funding for township governments around the state. Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Township, said the money was to match the intent of Congress to provide recovery dollars to all local governments. He said townships provide government services to 4 million Ohioans.

“As a former Madison Township trustee, I have seen first-hand the issues that have come up due to the pandemic,” Hall said. “This critical funding in the legislation is going to help townships recover from the effects of the pandemic and I am very excited to deliver these dollars to our local communities to support them moving forward.”

At the same time, DeWine also signed into law House Bill 193, which requires all Schedule II prescriptions to be done electronically in an effort the bill sponsor says will help address opioid issues.

“The goal of the legislation is to help curb the opioid crisis here in Ohio,” said Rep. Gail Pavliga, R-Portage County. “While we will continue to find more ways to address this epidemic, I’m very pleased to see this bill signed. House Bill 193 takes action to stop a method of how these illicit drugs are damaging people’s lives here in Portage County and across the state.”

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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Appalachia Bill” by Governor Mike DeWine.

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