For the Appalachian Regional Commission, EDR Group (in association with The Brandow Company) conducted a 13-state assessment of the local and regional economic impacts and effectiveness of ARC investments in developing local industrial parks, business incubators, access roads, and water and sewer facilities. The projects spanned the Appalachian States: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia.
(From left in photograph: Anne Pope, Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Joe Manchin, Governor of West Virginia, and EDR Group's Steven Landau).
The study was initially conducted in 1999, covering a selection of 99 projects completed by that year for the ARC. The study was repeated in 2007, covering 104 additional projects completed between 1999-2006. From a total of 400 projects completed for the ARC in that time period, the 104 selected represent a broad cross-section of work commissioned by size, type and location in the 13-state ARC region.
The 2007 evaluation focused on qualitative and quantitative measures of the impacts of projects involving economic development infrastructure investments in 104 communities. It included interviews of local public officials and business representatives in each community, as well as data collection to document changes in local business growth, investment, taxes, jobs and income associated with projects. It then compared actual economic development results (over a decade of time) against those projected at the time of funding application.
Significant differences between the newly published study in 2007 and the 1999 study are the inclusion of community housing projects and quality of life benefits to households such as access to clean water, access to sanitary services (sewer systems), and broadband access.
A notable aspect of this study was careful attention to identifying net benefits associated with the project (as opposed to other factors), and the avoidance of "double counting" in allocating project benefits to multiple funding parties. The study examined how ARC funds were packaged with other federal funding sources and applied to leverage additional private and local public funding. The study concluded that some projects failed to meet expectations, while other projects far exceeded expecations, but that overall impacts clearly exceeded initial expectations.
Links to documents on the ARC web site: