Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a unique federal-state partnership providing social and economic support for a 13-state region stretching along the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi, including western North Carolina.

Established by the United States Congress in 1965, when Appalachia was considered "a region apart" from the rest of the nation, ARC has worked to bring Appalachia's 26 million people into America's economic mainstream

ARC supports economic development activities in 31 North Carolina counties: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davie, Forsyth, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin, and Yancey counties.

Map depicting the 31 North Carolina counties with the Appalachian Regional Commission

Tab/Accordion Items

Each year ARC provides funding for projects throughout the Appalachian Region of North Carolina. Projects approved for ARC assistance must support one of the five general goals.

Goal 1: Building Appalachian Businesses

Goal 2: Building Appalachia's Workforce Ecosystem

Goal 3: Building Appalachia's Infrastructure

Goal 4: Building Regional Culture and Tourism 

Goal 5: Building Community Leaders and Capacity 

Eligible applicants are public entities (cities, towns, counties, regions, public service districts) and nonprofit organizations.

Infographic providing information regarding ARC grant investments in NC in FY23
In Fiscal Year 2022 the North Carolina Appalachian Regional Commission Program made significant investments in Appalachian North Carolina that yielded substantial economic development impacts. These investments and associated impacts include: 29 projects receiving $4.6 million in grant funding; 925 Jobs created or retained; 1,120 students and workers educated and trained; 1,400 businesses or households served with improved infrastructure; and $650 million in additional private investment leveraged.


For additional information about the ARC program, please contact:

Olivia Collier - Director - Regional Development Commissions (ARC & SCRC) - (919)-218-3623 or

Olivia is the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Program Manager for North Carolina, a federal program that provides economic development assistance to Appalachia based on the Governor’s priorities. She has held this position since January of 2007.  Olivia manages the day to day operations of the State’s ARC program. As program manager, her primary responsibilities are to ensure that the Governor’s priorities in Appalachia are being achieved and to ensure ARC resources are being deployed to assist in critical economic development challenges in the eligible ARC communities in Western North Carolina.  As the ARC Program Manager, she has witnessed the remarkable effect that the ARC program has had in the 31 eligible Western North Carolina counties.  During her tenure, the ARC program in North Carolina has awarded over $70 million to over 365 projects, leveraging an additional $115 million in other funding sources.  The approved projects have created and retained thousands of jobs, assisted families with early childhood education and access to affordable healthcare, and provided workforce skill training programs for numerous communities. Prior to her current role, Olivia worked with the Community Development Block Grant Program ensuring that all grantees comply with applicable federal requirements. She also served as the Public Information Officer for the Division of Community Assistance for two years. Olivia earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Master’s in Public Administration from East Carolina University. She has served on the New Generations Advisory Council and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s Rural Health Task Force.

David McRae - ARC Assistant Program Manager - (984) 365-0853 or

David is the ARC Assistant Program Manager for North Carolina’s Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Program. His primary role is to assist North Carolina’s ARC Program leadership implement the state’s policies to fulfill the ARC mission to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia. Prior to his current role, David worked in local government for Harnett County Development Services and Sanford/Lee County Planning and Community Development. David earned his BS in Urban & Regional Planning from East Carolina University and his MA in Appalachian Studies, Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University.

Ann Bass - ARC Community Development Planner, Western Region - (828) 508-0107 or

Ann serves the far western region of NC providing community and economic development assistance to communities, local governments and regional organizations. Assistance takes the form of networking resources, technical assistance and research, project and program development, strategic planning for economies or economic sectors, downtown revitalization and placemaking.  She is based in Sylva and has served in this position since March of 2017.  Throughout her career Ann has had experience gluing electronic encoders, landscaping, managing park construction, planning multi-use recreational trails, master planning state parks, serving as a private planning and urban design consultant, programming and designing public spaces nationally and internationally with the Project for Public Spaces, doing downtown and Main Street development, starting and managing not-for-profit economic development organizations in the White Carpathian mountains of the Czech Republic, Yadkin Pee Dee Lakes region of NC and in the Town of Siler City.  Her primary passion is for creating places we want to live in but she also has special interest in entrepreneurship and economic sector development—building out value chains using local assets and incremental investment to grow sustainable local economies.

Phil Boggan - ARC Community Economic Development Planner, Northwest Region - (828)962-2805 or


Program Description

The POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.

The POWER Initiative supports efforts to create a more vibrant economic future for coal-impacted communities by cultivating economic diversity, enhancing job training and re-employment opportunities, creating jobs in existing or new industries, and attracting new sources of investment.

Although North Carolina has no active coal mining operations within the state, the NC Department of Commerce commissioned an economic study which uncovered negative economic impacts to the state caused by job losses in coal-fired power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production. Our staff can assist prospective applicants appropriately address this portion of the grant application requirements. The report can be found here.

NC POWER Contact:

David McRae, ARC Assistant Program Manager
North Carolina Department of Commerce
984-365-0853    mobile


ARC Check Ceremony

Established in 1990, the Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge is a residential, hands-on learning experience for Appalachia’s middle and high school students, as well as high school teachers in STEM-related fields. Hosted by Oak Ridge Associated Universities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, this program is a gateway to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in the Appalachian Region. Many participants come from economically distressed counties and often gain their first exposure to applied science and STEM education through this experience.

Now accepting applications for the 2024 Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge!

Application Deadline: February 2, 2024

Click here to apply! 

In partnership with Appalachian State UniversityEntreEd, and STEM West, ARC’s Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy (AEA) prepares the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and thinkers. Chosen via a competitive application process, 26 high school students from across the Appalachian Region participate in experiential learning designed to cultivate creativity and develop essential entrepreneurial skills. While learning, students concurrently develop and implement their own business ideas, refine and prototype those ideas, and eventually deliver a shark-tank-style pitch presentation for an audience of entrepreneurs.

Now accepting applications for the 2024 Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy!

Application Deadline: February 2, 2024

Click here to apply!