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Biden nominates Gayle Manchin to run Appalachian Regional Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House announced Friday President Joe Biden will nominate Gayle Manchin for Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Gayle Manchin

Manchin, the wife of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, is the former president of the West Virginia Board of Education and former state Secretary for Education and the Arts. She was also first lady during Sen. Manchin’s six years as West Virginia’s governor.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) covers parts of 14 states and more than 400 counties in the Appalachian region.

According to its website, ARC’s mission is “to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.”

The agency has played a key role in funding various projects in West Virginia for decades.

The ARC told MetroNews in late 2019, that in the four previous years, West Virginia had received approximately $83 million in annual funding from the ARC, which awards discretionary POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Grants for improvement of broadband and other critical infrastructure, entrepreneurial support, and training of displaced workers.

Joe Manchin

Mrs. Manchin would replace federal ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. Thomas, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2018, had a series of roundtable discussions with Senator Manchin in southern West Virginia in November 2019.

Gov. Jim Justice removed Secretary Manchin from her post in the Department of Education and the Arts in 2018 as he moved ahead with plans to reorganize the department.

Mrs. Manchin said during an appearance on MetroNews Talkline in March 2018 that she was targeted by the Republican-led Legislature for standing against the changes.

“I don’t think it’s just because I’m Joe Manchin’s wife. I believe they think they need to get Democrats out of positions of influence. I think the Republicans of this state believe everybody in a position like this should be a Republican,” she said at the time.

The federal co-chair leads the agency and according the ARC website “works directly with ARC’s 13 member governors, their state alternates and program managers, and a network of local development districts to continue creating economic opportunities in the Appalachian Region’s coal-impacted communities, support small business and entrepreneurial development in rural Appalachia, and address the Region’s opioid crisis.”

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