Over $15M in New Grants for West Virginia Projects

Congress recently passed over $2 trillion in stimulus spending directed at infrastructure, and many states are following suit, either trying to grab up some of that federal funding or supplementing with their own funds to get some projects done. The latest state to focus on these in-state projects is West Virginia, whose governor, Jim Justice, held a large ceremony on Friday to announce that he's authorized over $15.5 million in grants to tackle a total of 23 separate projects in the state. These grants are possible due to money pooled together through both the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBD) from the federal government.

Governor Justice claimed that it is always a fun day when "you're able to give some money away for some great projects," adding that "I'm really proud of everyone."

Although West Virginia is just one of a few states in the Appalachia cultural region of the United States, the state is where the West Virginia Development Officers administers the ARC program, so it stands to reason that WVA would be a recipient of these crucial funds. Through the ARC program alone, the state plans on handling 10 separate projects with a budget just north of $8 million. The CDBD funds make up the remainder of the $15 million in grants, and this funding comes from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

It's unusual for HUD to spend so much money in rural areas. Although their purview does cover the entire United States, the vast majority of the time and funding is spent in inner cities and minority specific communities. Rural areas like West Virginia are typically overlooked by HUD, but helping to fill out these grants with another $7 million wasn't much of a big deal, giving that HUD's budget has increased by billions this year.

The CDBG projects make up the remaining 13 projects, at just north of $7 million. These projects not only help to improve West Virginia's infrastructure, but they also help to keep a lot more people at work. These contracts will go to both private and public construction crews, so thousands of people will be employed during these infrastructure upgrades. It's a situation where stimulus gets to kill more than one bird with a single stone, and one of the only examples of government spending that has a net positive impact, unlike education and military spending, which always seems to end up as a drain on the economy.

Governor Justice concluded his ceremony by thanking everyone involved, and by stating that he looks forward to getting started with these 23 projects. To date, specific information has not been released on specific projects. All we know at this date is that $15.5 million in grant spending has been green lit by the state.

Appalachian Infrastructure and Its Significance

Historically speaking, the Appalachia cultural region (Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee) is the last region of the nation to have infrastructure work done. A lot of talk has been shared about the practice of "redlining" in America of late, aimed directly at a supposed "white supremacist" system that supposedly forced African Americans into poorer parts of communities. What these activists, politicians, pundits and professors don't tell people, however, is that the Appalachia region was red-lined first, and red-lined the hardest; and the redlining still continues today. It's considered "racism" if an inner-city person has to travel 15 minutes for work or groceries. That person has been red-lined out of the economy, they claim. Though when a person in the Appalachia has to drive an hour to a grocery store, or 80 minutes to a hospital, or their child has to wake up at 5 a.m. to get to school on time, nobody has a word to say about that.

The fact is that the Appalachian mountain communities have long been overlooked. As places with exceedingly more poverty than inner city urban areas, one might think that more spending would flow their way. Though it rarely does, which makes West Virginia's grants so unique and welcomed. The fact is that it's hard to get help if you live in the mountain region, and nobody really seems to care.

Hopefully these grants will provide some much needed infrastructure upgrades, and hopefully people in some of these rural communities can finally have easier access to things that they desperately need, like food and medical care.

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