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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 13, 1998


Today I have signed into law S. 2364, the "Economic Development Administration and Appalachian Regional Development Reform Act of 1998." This legislation reauthorizes the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), which provide grant assistance to help rural and urban distressed areas create economic opportunity and job growth in their communities.

The EDA, a reinvented agency within the Department of Commerce, promotes economic development in distressed communities -- communities with unemployment above the national average, low income, or special needs created by events such as natural disasters, military base closures, or defense industry downsizing. Title I of the Act reauthorizes the EDA and tightens eligibility criteria to ensure that the EDA can better serve the needs of distressed communities, simplifies application procedures, and streamlines statutory authorities by eliminating obsolete programs.

Title II of the Act reauthorizes the ARC. Established by the Congress in 1965, the ARC is a Federal-State partnership providing social and economic support for a 13-State region stretching from southern New York to northern Mississippi. The ARC targets its resources to the region's most distressed areas. Since the mid-1960s, the region's poverty rate has been cut in half; the percentage of adults with a high school education has doubled; and the infant mortality rate has been cut by two-thirds.

This Act recognizes that future growth requires improved physical infrastructure, a skilled workforce, an emphasis on creating entrepreneurial communities, the deployment of new technologies for business development, and a concerted effort to make the Nation more competitive in international markets. This legislation also maintains the critical role of local development districts in economic growth.

Reauthorization of the EDA and the ARC represents an important step in my Administration's efforts to ensure that all parts of America participate in the economic growth that this country has enjoyed over the past 6 years.


                              THE WHITE HOUSE,
                              November 13, 1998.

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