WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has approved $500,000 in grant funding for the Blue Ridge Discovery Center (BRDC), a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring, discovering, and sharing the natural history of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The ARC funding will go towards renovating the former Luther Konnarock Training School that will serve as a location for educational programs centered on the biodiversity of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Within three years of the project’s completion, BRDC expects to host 95 programs that will serve nearly 4,000 participants and receive more than 2,500 visitors annually.
“Southwest Virginia is known for its biodiversity and abundance of natural resources,” said the Senators. “We are pleased to announce these federal dollars that will increase local tourism and continue to spur economic opportunity.”
ARC project grants are awarded to local and state government entities and non-profits. The ARC funds are then matched by local funding sources. In addition to the ARC funds, local sources will provide $1,750,000, bringing the total project funding to $2,250,000.
Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated more than 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed eliminating the program entirely. Sens. Warner and Kaine have continued to advocate for a fully funded ARC so that it can continue to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia.