EDITORIAL: Region gets its chance

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2022

Historically, the Appalachian region has been known for being economically-impoverished, with West Virginia being courted in 1960 by John F. Kennedy on his campaign for president with a pledge to aid the region, followed eight years later by a “Poverty Tour” of eastern Kentucky by his brother Robert in his own campaign.

While there have been some investments made (President Kennedy is credited for major highway development in West Virginia), the issue of poverty and lack of development in the region has not gone away and, with the loss of manufacturing jobs and other industries in following decades, has grown worse in many ways.

This is why the $500 million investment Gov. Mike DeWine proposed for Appalachian Ohio, passed this week by the legislature, was welcome news.

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Now that it is passed, the plan is for $15 million to go into planning, followed by the remaining $485 being implemented on projects for infrastructure, tourism development, education and workforce training and community health.

The planning phase will involve determining needs and priorities for local communities and we urge local leaders to be as active in this conversation with state officials as possible to ensure that Lawrence County gets what is needed here and that it is put to a good use.

DeWine’s plan to invest in the region is one that has been long needed and we commend him and lawmakers for this move.

A true opportunity exists here and we hope our local officials make the most of it.