Leaders in Washington determined to boost Appalachia region

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Lawmakers on Capitol Hill say it is about time to make some policy changes to help the Appalachia region. They are working with a bipartisan organization to develop solutions.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) says there are plenty of ways Congress can help to bring a boost to the Appalachia region.

“There’s always been challenges just because of the nature of the region,” said Sandy Davis, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Davis is working to boost a region he says fell victim to geographic isolation and economic shifts. With millions of jobs disappearing, the consensus is that it’s time for a new chapter.

“Folks should generally be encouraged,” said Davis.

He is joining forces with a bipartisan group of Appalachia senators to address the issues. With coal and manufacturing taking a back seat to other industries in recent years, Davis says the goal is not to abandon tradition, but diversify.

“Here’s what you’re doing now, let’s figure out how to make it work differently perhaps. But not to get rid of it. Not to get rid of coal. Coal is part of Appalachia,” said Davis.

One of the senators Davis is working with, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), says there are lots of ways to spark a revival in the region. Expanding broadband access, providing more pell grants, inspiring local partnerships are among the things Warner says could help jump-start the economy.

“Local community leaders are stepping up. Wouldn’t it be great if we could actually reinforce those efforts, and if necessary sometimes, get out of the way?” said Warner.

Warner says he and his colleagues need to get to work to create opportunity now.

“These are ideas that aren’t necessarily Democrat or Republican. They’re more kind of like, whether we’re going to lean into the future or just look backward,” said Warner.

Warner says some of this innovation could be rolled into tax reform, infrastructure or education funding.

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