Appalachian Regional Commission Strategic Planning and Multi-State Program Design

Colorful fall in Appalachian Mountains, Pennsylvania

The Appalachian Regional Commission's (ARC) mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia. The Commission's strategic plan guides the organization's programs, investments, and technical assistance offerings to support opportunity and prosperity throughout the 13-state Appalachian region. 

The ARC engaged AIR in 2019 to assist the agency with developing its 2022-2026 strategic plan. With an emphasis on stakeholder engagement, AIR facilitated a series of virtual community input sessions and collected feedback via an online survey, interviews, and focus groups. AIR used insights from the information gathered to facilitate a series of work sessions with the ARC leadership to develop its strategic vision, mission, goals, and performance targets. The process culminated with a full strategic plan titled “Appalachia Envisioned: A New Era of Opportunity,” reflecting the shared priorities of the ARC leadership, states, and stakeholders. 

Since completing the strategic planning process, AIR has partnered with ARC on several subsequent projects, including program design and technical assistance for its Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE), an initiative that aims to drive large-scale, regional economic transformation through multi-state collaborative projects across Appalachia. This work included a series of listening sessions to gather input from key leaders and partners to understand states’ needs, challenges, and opportunities across the region.

AIR also conducted research and interviews to create a series of case studies highlighting existing successful multistate partnerships. The work culminated in a suite of deliverables for ARC, including a recommendations report for program design, a Multi-State Collaboration Toolkit, and an informational webinar for ARC states and stakeholders.