Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin

Congratulations to our Ohio representative! The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced that Appalachia’s 13 governors have elected Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to serve as ARC’s states’ co-chair for 2020. The Appalachian Region consists of 13 Appalachian states which includes 420 counties.

As part of ARC’s federal-state partnership structure, the states’ co-chair works directly with the federal co-chair to invest in economic growth and development across the Appalachian Region. DeWine is ARC’s 67th states’ co-chair, and is only the fifth Ohio Governor to serve in this role.

Opioids in Appalachia: The Role of Counties in Reversing a Regional Epidemic,a report published in 2019, outlined response approaches and recommendations for county leadership for the opioid problems in Appalachia. Visit

ARC 2019

During 2019, ARC invested over $12 million in Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties which were matched by over $35 million. In 2019, three Appalachian Ohio counties were considered Distressed Counties: Adams, Meigs, Monroe. Ten counties were considered At-Risk and Scioto County fits into this category.

ARC 2020

ARC’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020, which is appropriated by Congress annually, stands at a record $175 million. Funds are distributed to 13 Appalachian states.

Health Disparities in Appalachia, measures population health in Appalachia and documents disparities between the Region and the nation as a whole, as well as disparities within the Appalachian Region. Fact sheets summarizing the report’s key findings on health measures for the Appalachian Region and for each Appalachian state are available at

The Appalachian Regional Commission uses an index-based county economic classification system to identify and monitor the economic status of Appalachian counties. The system compares each county’s averages for three economic indicators—three-year average unemployment rate, per capita market income, and poverty rate—with national averages.

The resulting values are summed and averaged to create a composite index value for each county. Each county in the nation is then ranked, based on its composite index value. Counties are designated as distressed, at-risk, transitional, competitive, or attainment, based on their ranking in the index. Designations are revised annually using the most current data available.

Depression and Suicide in Appalachia

The states with the greatest disparities between their Appalachian and non-Appalachian portions are Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. In each of these states, the Appalachian portions report suicide rates more than 25 percent higher than the non-Appalachian portions. The suicide rate in the Appalachian Region is 17 percent higher than the national rate.

Residents in the Appalachian Region’s rural counties are 21 percent more likely to commit suicide than those living in the Region’s large metro areas. Residents living in the Appalachian Region’s distressed counties are 14 percent more likely to commit suicide than those living in the Region’s non-distressed counties.

All five Appalachian subregions report suicide rates higher than the nation as a whole, with Central Appalachia reporting an incidence 31 percent higher than the national rate.

Among the Appalachian portions of states, depression prevalence is highest in Appalachian Ohio, at 18.7 percent of Medicare beneficiaries.

According to ARC, special resources are targeted to the most economically distressed counties. ARC-Designated Distressed Counties for Fiscal Year 2020 include: Adams, Athens, Meigs, and Monroe.

Governor DeWine, how much of the $175 million will Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties receive in 2020?

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Southern Ohio. Contact her at Martin writes a weekly column published in The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.

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