Gayle Manchin, ARC Federal Co-Chair Visits Our Region

John Carey, Governor’s Office of Appalachia; Vinton County resident; Mark Fouts, Vinton County Commissioner; Gayle Manchin ARC Federal Co-Chair; John Hemmings, OVRDC Executive Director

Gayle Manchin, ARC Federal Co-Chair Visits Our Region

Last week, we were honored to welcome Appalachian Regional Council (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin and her team to the region. With the goal of bringing the region to socioeconomic parity with the rest of the nation, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has focused investments into fundamental community and economic development needs, including basic infrastructure, education, job training, health care, entrepreneurship, and capital market development.

The team from Rio Grande University, including President Ryan Smith, with Gayle Manchin.

On the first day, Co-Chair Manchin visited the Rio Grande University McArthur Campus to hear about mobile workforce development classes, then moved on to a water pumping station in Vinton County, the Goose Creek Vending Station Project, where some residents lack access to clean drinking water and city water lines, so they truck their drinking water in every day.

The next stop was Jackson County and Bellisio Foods, a modern food production company shipping amazing products worldwide. We made time for a facility tour, and while we were there, Julie Bolen, Executive Director Ross County Community Action Commission presented information on the ARC INSPIRE Grant to establish the Southern Ohio Employee Resource Network.

Julie Bolen, Executive Director Ross County Community Action Commission, presents the ARC INSPIRE grant initiative “Southern Ohio Employer Resource Network.”
The team from Bellisio Foods, including Nick Erwin and Michelle Scaggs, are shown here with members of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, OVRDC, ARC Executive Director Brandon McBride and visiting guests with ARC Federal Co-Chair Manchin. The facility tour of Bellisio Foods was impressive.


After a beautiful scenic drive south, we stopped in Lawrence County at the Collins Career & Technical Center to move some virtual dirt with the graduating class of their ARC-funded operating engineer’s program. The last presentation of the day came from Lawrence County Community Action Organization on their ARC INSPIRE program Recovery Ecosystem Expansion (REE) Initiative. Inter-agency team members shined the light on a community working together to overcome substance use disorder and connect people in recovery to employers who want to help.

Gayle Manchin, shown here with a Collins Career Center instructor, was ready to roll up her sleeves and dig digital dirt.
Members of the community collaborative working on wrap around employment and other support for people recovering from substance use disorder through the Ironton/Lawrence County Community Action INSPIRE grant program.


The next day, Shawnee State University (SSU) hosted ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin and her team on the morning of her last day in the region to hear how students in the Plastics Manufacturing Program responded to Governor DeWine’s call to manufacture PPE and face shields to protect our frontline health workers at the height of the Covid pandemic last year. With ARC funding, faculty Adam Miller and Dr. Skip Miller guided students who worked tirelessly to coordinate new equipment and expanded production, and meet the demand for life-saving equipment.

Students from the SSU Plastics Program show Gayle Manchin how they were able to respond to local PPE shortages and provide equipment for health care workers with the help of ARC’s investment in the program.


The SSU Kricker Innovation Hub, ARC POWER grant recipient for the LIGHTS Innovation Hub program, was also a highlight of the morning. Staff shared information on an innovative program to encourage entrepreneurs in recovery and generate new business ideas.

Shawnee State University faculty, students and staff, including President Jeff Bauer, were on hand to welcome Gayle Manchin to campus.
The ARC team, shown here with OVRDC Executive Director John Hemmings and GOA Director John Carey, learned about the SSU Kricker Innovation Hub and network of regional collaboration that helps people in recovery from substance use disorder find support for new business and entrepreneurial ventures.

Many thanks to the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, the Ohio Department of Development and the Appalachian Regional Commission for their investment and encouragement to support community and economic development in Southern Ohio.


As you can see from the photographs, Gayle Manchin was beyond engaged and listening to people who benefit every day from programs funded through the mission of ARC. We say THANK YOU SO MUCH, GAYLE! We are so glad you came to Appalachian Ohio.