(BEXLEY, Ohio)— In a ceremony in the Appalachian Garden of the Ohio Governor's Residence and Heritage Garden this afternoon, Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 377 which makes an historic investment of $500 million to transform Appalachian communities in 32 Ohio counties.
"As I stated during my State of the State address, this is Appalachia’s time," said Governor DeWine. "With this investment, we will be securing a better future for this region."
The funding contained in the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township) and Rep. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron), will go toward Governor DeWine's “OhioBuilds – Small Communities, Big Impact – A Plan for Appalachia.” Governor DeWine proposed the plan in April to help unite Appalachian communities on transformational local projects with three priorities:
- Infrastructure, including downtown development
- Health care, such as investments in school- or community-based services to address physical and behavioral health
- Workforce development, including public-private partnerships to build and coordinate job training
The $500 million investment in Appalachia allocated as part of House Bill 377 is on top of more than $645 million in investments by the DeWine-Husted Administration since 2019 and is more than twice as much as this year’s entire Appalachian Regional Commission budget covering 13 states.
"We have stepped up in a big way for Appalachia," added Governor DeWine. "Our investments in this region to date have included water infrastructure, broadband, and other efforts to help get these counties on even footing. And now, thanks to the help of the Ohio General Assembly, we will do more."
“We have entered an era where people can live in one place and work in another,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “This investment opens the door for economic opportunities in Southeast Ohio, allowing people to enjoy the affordable, high-quality way of life that Appalachia offers – no matter where they work. With this investment, we are delivering on our promise to ensure a brighter future for the families living in this region by supporting communities as they transform their downtowns, promote workforce development, and increase healthcare options.”
“OhioBuilds – Small Communities, Big Impact – A Plan for Appalachia” includes a $50 million planning phase to allow Appalachian communities and regional partnerships to develop transformational plans that incorporate each of the three aforementioned priorities. Following the planning, $450 million in implementation grants will be awarded to help communities and regional groups carry out projects that rejuvenate the region and stimulate economic growth.
“This historic investment has potential for lasting change in our Appalachian communities,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development. “We’re grateful to Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, and the state legislature for prioritizing this region and committing the funding to make a real impact.”
The grant process will be administered by the Governor's Office of Appalachia within the Ohio Department of Development. Funding will be available through multiple planning and development application rounds until all funds have been awarded. For program status updates, subscribe to email updates from the Governor’s Office of Appalachia.