Federal Regional Authorities and Commissions: Their Function and Design

CRS Report for Congress
Federal Regional Authorities and Commissions:
Their Function and Design
Updated September 21, 2006
Eugene Boyd
Government and Finance Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Federal Regional Authorities and Commissions: Their
Function and Design
This report examines the legislative history and design structure of the nation’s
four federally chartered regional commissions: the Appalachian Regional
Commission (ARC), the Denali Commission (DC), the Delta Regional Authority
(DRA), and the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority (NGPRA). For each of
the four entities, this report includes a summary of the legislative history leading to
its creation, its funding history, and a listing by state of political subdivisions
included in its designated service areas. The report also identifies criteria a
jurisdiction must meet in order to be designated as a recipient of funding, the
structure of the governing authority charged with administering funds, and current
funding and legislative issues, if any.

Appalachian Regional Commission....................................1
Legislative History.............................................1
Commission Structure..........................................6
Community Designation Criteria..................................7
Funding History..............................................10
Funding Allocations...........................................12
Current Funding and Legislative Issues............................12
At-Risk County Designation................................13
Delta Regional Authority...........................................15
Legislative History............................................15
DRA Administrative Structure..................................17
DRA Designated Counties......................................18
County and Parish Eligibility ...................................23
Funding History..............................................24
Current Funding Request.......................................25
Northern Great Plains Regional Authority..............................25
Legislative History............................................25
NGPRA Administrative Structure................................27
NGPRA Designated Counties...................................27
Denali Commission...............................................28
Legislative History............................................28
Administrative Structure.......................................28
Denali Designated Counties.....................................29
Funding History..............................................34
Current Appropriations Request .................................35
List of Figures
Figure 1. ARC Counties: Economic Status.............................11
Figure 2. DRA Coverage Area......................................24
List of Tables
Table 1. Number of ARC Designated Counties by State, 2006 ..............8
Table 2. ARC Distressed Counties for FY2005..........................9
Table 3. ARC Funding Request and Actual Appropriations:
FY2001 to FY2006...........................................12
Table 4. FY2007 Appropriations....................................13
Table 5. At-Risk Counties, 2006.....................................14
Table 6. Designated Mississippi Delta Counties and Parishes..............18
Table 7. DRA Funding Request and Actual Appropriations:
FY2001 to FY2006...........................................25
Table 8. Delta Regional Authority Funding, FY2007.....................25

FY2001 to FY2005...........................................28
Table 10. Denali Commission Designated Distressed
Communities for 2006........................................31
Table 11. Non-Distressed Communities That Meet Distressed
Criteria with 3% Formula, 2006.................................34
Table 12. Denali Commission Funding Request and Actual Appropriations:
FY2001 to FY2006...........................................35
Table 13. Denali Commission Appropriations, FY2007..................35

Federal Regional Authorities and
Commissions: Their Function and Design
Appalachian Regional Commission
Legislative History
The Appalachian Regional Commission, created in 1965,1 is the oldest of the
four regional commissions and authorities chartered by Congress to address
development and related issues affecting multi-state regions and substate areas
experiencing long-term economic distress and isolation.2 In 1960, governors of nine
states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania,
Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) formed the Council of Appalachian
Governors. The ad hoc group’s mission was to press for greater federal involvement
in addressing the region’s common problems. In 1963, President Kennedy
established the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission (PARC), appointed
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., as its chairman, and charged it with devising a
comprehensive development program for the region. The resulting PARC report,
issued in 1964 during the Johnson Administration, expanded the definition of the
region to include selected counties in the state of Ohio.3 It detailed the problems and
shortcomings of the 10-state region, including low per capita income, high
employment, educational deficiencies, and poor public infrastructure. The report
identified four priority areas of action, including:
!regional infrastructure, particularly highways, as a means of reducing
regional isolation;
!water and wastewater management resources;
!natural resources development; and
!human resources development, including housing, education, job
skills, and health care.
The report called for the creation of a new independent agency capable of
coordinating state and federal actions.
On March 9, 1965, President Johnson signed into law the Appalachian Regional
Development Act, P.L. 89-4. The act identified three purposes of the Appalachian

1 Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, P.L. 89-4, as amended.
2 Congress authorized the creation of the Denali Commission and charged it with devising
economic development strategies for rural areas solely within the state of Alaska.
3 U.S. President’s Appalachian Regional Commission, Appalachia: A Report by the
President’s Appalachian Regional Commission 1964 (Washington: GPO), 1964.

Regional Development Commission (ARDC) based on the PARC recommendations.
These included
!assisting the region in addressing its special problems;
!promoting economic development in the region; and
!establishing a framework for joint federal and state efforts in
developing basic facilities essential to promoting coordinated
regional responses to the region’s problems.
The 1965 Act authorized the creation of several new programs intended to
address the most pressing issues in the region. These new initiatives included:
!the Appalachian Development Highway System, which was
administered by the Department of Commerce, with the federal
government covering 50% to 70% of the construction cost of such
!a health facilities demonstration program administered by the
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, with the federal
government covering 100% the operating cost of such facilities for
the first two years;
!land stabilization, conservation, and erosion control agreements with
private landowners and the Secretary of Agriculture;
!technical assistance to timber development organizations to aid in
developing sound timber management policies;
!mining restoration;
!water resource control; and
!sewage treatment works grants.
The act directed the ARC to give priority consideration to funding for projects
using such factors as:
!the relationship of the project to an area’s growth potential;
!the per capita income of an area’s population;
!a state or local area’s financial resources; and
!the potential of a project to improve the long-term employment
outlook of an area.
The act also required the submission of an annual progress report to Congress on the
activities carried out under the act.
The 1965 Act identified several counties in 11 states4 within the purview of the
ARDC. The Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments in 1967 (P.L. 94-
188) added counties in New York and Mississippi, increasing the number of state
members of the ARC to 13, which has remained unchanged.

4 Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South
Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

During its 40-year history, the ARC Act has been amended several times in an
effort to refine its mission. In 1975, Congress amended the ARC,5 to require the
governor of each member state to serve as a member of it. The act also required
ARC decisions regarding policy, approval of state and regional development plans,
and the allocation of funds to be made with a quorum of state members present. In
addition, the 1975 amendments:
!directed the ARC to publish regulations specifying minimum
guidelines for public participation in the development, revision, and
implementation of all ARC plans and programs;
!required that states consult with local development districts and local
units of government; and
!authorized federal grants to the ARC for assistance to states for a
period not exceeding two years to strengthen the state development
planning process for the region, including the coordination of state
planning under this act and the Public Works and Economic
Development Act of 1965, which authorized funding for the
Economic Development Administration.
The amendments also stated that no funds authorized by the act could be used
to reclaim, improve, grade, seed, or reforest strip-mined areas, except on lands owned
by federal, state, or local government bodies or by private, nonprofit entities
organized under state law. Such reclamation efforts could only be undertaken if the
land was to be used for public recreation, conservation, community development
facilities, and public housing. It also authorized the Department of Housing and
Urban Development to make grants and loans from the Appalachian Housing Fund
to nonprofit, limited dividend, or cooperative organizations, and public bodies. Such
grants and loans were designated for planning and obtaining federally insured
mortgage financing or other financial assistance for housing construction and
rehabilitation projects for low- and moderate-income families and individuals.
Further, the 1975 amendments authorized grants for education projects which
served to demonstrate area-wide education planning, services, and programs, with
special emphasis on vocational and technical education, career education, cooperative
and recurrent education, and guidance counseling. It required each state member to
submit to the ARC a development plan for each area of the state within the ARC.
The state development plans were to reflect the goals, objectives, and priorities
identified in the regional development plan approved for the subregion of which such
state is a part. It also required the ARC to conduct a study and report on the status
of Appalachian migrants, current migration patterns and implications, and the actual
and potential impact the Commission program has or might have on out-migration
and the welfare of Appalachian migrants.
The Appalachian Regional Development Reform Act of 19986 directed the
ARC to designate counties as:

5 The Appalachian Regional Development Amendments Act, P.L. 94-188.
6 Title II of P. L. 105-393.

!distressed counties — those that are the most severely and
persistently distressed;
!competitive counties — those which are approaching economic
parity with the rest of the country; and
!attainment counties — those which have attained or exceeded such
economic parity.
The act provided for annual reviews of county designations and permitted
designation renewals for another one-year period only if a county still met the
designation criteria. It also required the ARC to give special consideration to
counties designated as distressed, limited ARC’s contribution to 30% of project
costs for projects located in a county designated as competitive; and prohibited
assistance for a county designated as an attainment county, but provided for
exceptions and an authorized waiver by the ARC.
The 1998 amendments also brought administrative and programmatic changes.
They included provisions that
!required the ARC to meet at least once a year, and allowed the ARC
to conduct additional meetings by electronic means;
!required the ARC to obtain a quorum of state members before
reaching certain decisions;
!permanently extended the authorization of appropriations for ARC
administrative expenses and empowered the ARC to make grants for
administrative expenses;
!limit the ARC federal contribution supporting health care and
vocational and educational initiatives to 50% of total project cost,
down from 100% of cost, with an exception of an 80% federal
contribution for projects in distressed counties; and
!reduced from 75% to 50% the federal share of program costs of
research and development projects, with an exception of an 80%
federal contribution for counties designated as distressed.
Section 208 of the act repealed the programs and provisions under the act
relating to:
!the land stabilization, conservation, and erosion control program;
!the timber development program;
!the mining area restoration program;
!the water resource development and utilization survey;
!the Appalachian airport safety improvements program;
!the sewage treatment works program; and
!amendments to the Housing Act of 1954.
On March 12, 2002, the President signed the Appalachian Regional
Development Act Amendments of 2002.7 The 2002 amendments called for the ARC

7 P.L. 107-149.

!support local development districts;
!encourage the use of eco-industrial development technologies and
approaches; and
!coordinate economic development activities of, and the use of
economic development resources by, federal agencies in the
Appalachian region.
The act limited all ARC grants to 50% of project costs or 80% for projects when
carried out in designated distressed counties and eliminated the requirement that an
area have significant growth potential as a criterion for programs and projects to be
awarded assistance under the act. It allowed, at ARC’s discretion, coverage of up to
75% of the administrative expenses of local development districts that have a charter
or authority that includes the economic development of a county designated as
It also directed the President to establish the Interagency Coordinating Council
on Appalachia. The amendments added language that authorized the ARC to
undertake three new initiatives in the areas of telecommunications and technology,
entrepreneurship including development of business incubators, and regional skills
partnership. Specifically, the ARC is directed to provide technical assistance, make
grants, and enter into contracts with persons or entities in the region for projects to
provide increased access to advanced telecommunications information technologies
and to electronic commerce.
The 2002 amendments encouraged the ARC to provide increased support for the
development of homegrown businesses. It authorized the ARC to provide technical
assistance, make grants, enter into contracts, or otherwise provide funds to persons
or entities in the region for projects that would:
!provide entrepreneurial training and education for youths, students,
and businesspersons;
!improve access to debt and equity capital, including the
establishment of venture capital funds;
!aid communities in identifying, developing, and implementing
development strategies for various sectors of the economy; and
!develop a working network of business incubators, including
supporting entities that provide such services.
Further, the amendments authorized the Commission to establish regional skill
partnerships comprised of representatives from business or nonprofit entities, labor
organizations, educational institutions, and state and local governments. The
Commission provides technical assistance and award grants to eligible entities to be
used to assess and improve the job skills of workers in specified industries. Total
grant assistance for each of the three new initiatives (telecommunications,
entrepreneurship and regional skills partnership) is to be limited to no more than 50%
of the cost of activities eligible under the program, however in the case of distressed
communities the federal share may be increased to 80%. In addition, no more than
10% of the amounts awarded for regional skill partnership grants may be used for
administrative activities. The act also added four new counties to the ARC —
Edmonson and Hart, Kentucky; and Montgomery and Panola, Mississippi.

Commission Structure
The original Act of 1965 provided for a federal co-chair appointed by the
President and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The act also called for the
governor of each member state, or a person designated by the governor, to serve on
the ARC with one of the governors or designees elected by state members to serve
as the state co-chair. It also allowed for the appointment of federal and state
alternates to the Commission. Compensation for the federal co-chair was to be paid
by the federal government, while each state member would be compensated by the
member state. The act charged the ARC with:
! developing comprehensive and coordinated plans and programs for
the region, and establishing priorities among the activities identified
within such plans and programs;
!conducting research and analysis of the region’s resources with the
cooperation of the federal, state, and local agencies;
!reviewing ARC supported programs with the cooperation of affected
federal, state and local governments, and public and private entities,
and recommending modifications and additions aimed at enhancing
program effectiveness;
!recommending interstate cooperation, including the formation of
interstate compacts;
!encouraging the creation of local development districts and advising
the Secretary of Commerce on grant applications from local
development districts for administrative expenses;
!encouraging private investment in commercial, industrial, and
recreational projects; and
!providing a forum for the discussion of and proposed resolution of
problems confronting the region.
The act also directed the federal government to pay 100% of the administrative
expenses of the ARC for the first two fiscal years of its existence, and transferred
50% of such cost to the states thereafter with each state’s share of such cost
determined by the member states. The act conveyed certain administrative powers
to the ARC, including the power to amend or repeal bylaws and rules governing the
conduct of its business and the performance of its functions. It also conveyed to the
ARC the power to:
!appoint and determine the compensation of its employees, including
the executive director;
!request a federal, state, local, or intergovernmental agency to
temporarily detail personnel to the ARC;
! enter into arrangements, including contracts, with participating state
!accept gifts and donations, including real property; and
!maintain an office in the District of Columbia, hold hearings, and
request information necessary for the execution of its mission from
any federal, state, or local agency.

Community Designation Criteria
The following are the five categories of counties located in the ARC. The status
of each community dictates whether it receives ARC-supported assistance.
!Distressed Counties have poverty and unemployment rates that are
at least 150% of the national averages and per capita incomes that
are no more than 67% of the national average. Counties are also
considered distressed if they have poverty rates that are at least twice
the national average and they qualify based on either the
unemployment or per capita income indicator.
!At-Risk Counties have poverty rates and unemployment rates at least
125% of the national averages and per capita income that is no more
than 67% of the national average. Counties are also considered at-
risk if they meet the threshold of two of the three distressed-level
indicators. This year, 2006, marked the first year that ARC formally
designated communities as at-risk. This is a category not mentioned
in the statute authorizing the ARC. Communities that fall into this
category are those whose economic distress factors are below the
national average for designation as an attainment or competitive
county, but do not meet the criteria for designation as a distressed
county. See the section on current funding and legislative issues for
a discussion of this designation.
!Transitional Counties are those that do not meet the thresholds for
distressed or at-risk designation, but have unemployment, poverty,
or per capita income rates that are worse than the national average.
!Competitive Counties have poverty and unemployment rates that are
equal to or less than the national averages and have per capita
incomes that are equal to or are greater than 80%, but less than

100%, of the national average.

!Attainment Counties have poverty rates, unemployment rates, and
per capita incomes that are at least equal to the national rates.
There are 410 counties located within the now 13 member states that make up
the ARC. The 410 counties are divided into 72 Local Development Districts
(LDDs). These multi-county planning and development organizations help local
governments to identify development needs of their communities.

Table 1. Number of ARC Designated Counties by State, 2006
State Distressed At-RiskaTransitionalCompetitive AttainmentTotal
Alabama 512180 237
K e ntucky 32 12 7 0 0 51
Mississippi 13 6 5 0 0 24
New York00140014
N. Carolina16174129
Pennsyl va nia 0 5 41 5 1 52
S. Carolina014106
Tennessee 610322050
Virginia 1 7 13 1 1 23
W. Virginia1516222055
T otal 77 81 222 22 8 410
Source: ARC.
a. At-risk county is a new designation for 2006. ARC created the category to identify those counties that do not meet
the criteria for distressed, but whose per capita income and poverty fall below the national averages.

For FY2006, 77 counties meet the requirements for distressed county designation.
Table 2 and Figure 1 identify these counties.
Table 2. ARC Distressed Counties for FY2005
Bi bb Fr anklin Hale Macon Pickens
Bell BreathittCarterCaseyClay
Clinton Elliott Estill Fl oyd Harlan
J ackson J ohnson K nott K nox Lawrence
Lee Leslie Letcher Lewis Magoffin
Martin McCr eary Menifee Monroe Morgan
Owsley Perry Russell Wayne Whitley
Benton Chicka saw Choctaw Clay K emper
Marshall Montgome ry Noxubee Oktibbeha Panola
Webster Winston Yalobusha
North Carolina
At hens Meigs Pike V inton
Clay Fentress Gruny Hancock J ohnson
West Virginia
Barbour Braxton Calhoun Clay Gilmer
Lincoln M ason McDowell Mingo Ritchie
Roane Webster Wetzel Wirt Wyoming
Source: ARC at [http://arc.gov/index.do?nodeId=2934].

Funding History
For the past two years (FY2004 and FY2005), federal funding for the ARC has
remained at $65 million annually. This is slightly less than the $71 million
appropriated during the two previous years (FY2002 and FY2003). In addition to
direct allocation, the ARC uses its funds to bundle with state, federal, and private
funding sources in support of its strategic goals. Federal agencies that most often
partner with ARC include the Economic Development Administration in the
Department of Commerce, the Rural Development Administration in the Department
of Agriculture, the Department of Housing and Urban Development through the use
of Community Development Block Grant funds, and the Department of Education.
In addition to ARC non-highway program activities, funds are also made available
for the construction of the 3,000- mile Appalachian Development Highway System
(ADHS). Since the passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
(TEA-21), funding for the ADHS has been authorized through the Highway Trust
Fund. Prior to the 1998 Act, the ADHS funding was included in the ARC
appropriations. TEA-21 authorized an annual appropriation of $450 million for the
ADHS for the five-year period from FY1999 through FY2003.8 Although the
appropriation authority for ADHS has been transferred to the Highway Trust Fund,
the ARC and its 13 governors continue to exercise programmatic control. This
allows the governor of each state to determine where and how ADHS funds are used.
Funds are apportioned among the 13 states based on each state’s proportional share
of cost of completing the ADHS.

8 112 Stat. 112.

Figure 1. ARC Counties: FY2006 Economic Status

0 10050GEO RGI A
Distressed (77)Attainment (8)
At-Risk (81)Competitive (22)
Transitional (222)
Map Created: October 2005.Data Sources:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, LAUS, 2001-2003;U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, REIS, 2002;U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Census, SF3.

Table 3. ARC Funding Request and Actual Appropriations:
FY2001 to FY2006
(in millions of dollars)
Fiscal 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Req. Act. Req. Act. Req. Act. Req. Act. Req. Act. Req. Act.
ARC$71.4$77.0a$66.3$71.3$66.4 $71.3$33.1$65.6$66.0$65.565.565.0
a Includes $11 million in emergency appropriations.
Funding Allocations
ARC’s funding mechanism uses a multi-level, collaborative approach to select
and fund projects and activities. Working in collaboration with other federal
agencies, the ARC awards grants to various entities for activities that address one of
five goal areas outlined in the ARC strategic plan. They are:
!improving the skills and knowledge of Appalachian residents;
!improving the physical infrastructure of Appalachian communites;
!improving the community capacity of Appalachian residents and
!developing dynamic local economies; and
!increasing Appalachian residents’ access to affordable, quality health
The amount of ARC funds each state receives is not codified in the statute
authorizing the ARC, but is based on a formula worked out by the governors of the
member states. In addition, the method used to determine allocations among the
strategic goal areas is also a negotiated process between the member states and the
federal co-chair. The statute requires the ARC to target 50% of its funds to distressed
communities in the region, and prohibits or strictly limits the use of ARC funds in
attainment areas.
Current Funding and Legislative Issues
The Administration’s budget for FY2007 requests an appropriation of $65
million for ARC activities. This is the same amount approved for FY2006. The
House, in passing its version of Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act
of FY2007 (H.R. 5427, H.Rept. 109-474), recommended $35.5 million for ARC
activities, $30 million below the Administration’s request and FY2006
appropriations. The House passed the measure May 24, 2006. On June 29, 2006, the
Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of H.R. 5427, which included
$65.5 million for ARC activities (S.Rept. 109-274). In approving the $30 million
reduction in ARC funding the House noted the need to reduce funding in the face of
a budget crunch.

Table 4. FY2007 Appropriations
(in millions of dollars)
Request H o use Senat e Conf .
ARC Total 64.8a35.565.5
Program Development54.130.0 58.5
LDDs and tech. Asst. 5.3 — 0.0
ARC Highway0.00.01.0
Salaries and expenses5.45.46.0
a. Includes $9.337 million for 15 earmarks identified in the House report (H.Rept. 109-474).
At-Risk County Designation. The ARC authorizing statute requires the
ARC to allocate at least 50% of its annual appropriations to distressed counties. It
also prohibits funds from being awarded to counties that have achieved attainment
status. During her July 12, 2006, testimony before the House Subcommittee on
Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, the ARC
federal co-chair, Anne B. Pope, noted that many ARC counties fall short of the
definition for designation as a distressed county. However, these counties face
serious challenges and should receive some level of preferential treatment if they are
to avoid the slide to distress designation. At present, ARC defines an at-risk county
as having poverty rates and unemployment rates at least 125% of the national
averages and per capita income that is no more than 67% of the national average.
Counties are also considered at-risk if they meet the threshold of two of the three
distressed-level indicators. According to ARC calculations, 81 counties meet the
requirements to be designated at-risk (See Table 5 for a listing of counties.) This
year, 2006, marked the first year that ARC formally designated communities as at-
risk, according to the federal co-chair’s testimony before the subcommittee. This is
a category not mentioned in the statute authorizing the ARC. Under ARC current
statute, projects in these at-risk counties are subject to the same 50% federal match
requirements as those in counties with stronger economies. Projects in designated
distressed counties are eligible for up to an 80% ARC funding match.

Table 5. At-Risk Counties, 2006
Chambers Colbert Coosa Fayette J ackson
Lamar M arion Randolph T alladega T allapoosa
Adair BathCumberlandEdmonsonFleming
Hart Laurel Lincoln Pike Pulaski
Alcorn Calhoun Lowndes M onroe T i ppah
North Carolina
Cherokee McDowell Mitchell Rutherford Swain
Adams J ackson Lawrence M organ Perry
Cameron Clearfield Fayette Forest Huntingdon
South Carolina
Bledsoe Campbell Claiborne Cocke Grainge r
J ackson M eigs Morgan Pickett Union
Buchanan Carroll Gr ayson Lee Montgomery
West Virginia
Boone Doddridge Faye tte Grant Greenbrier
Lewi s Logan Mercer Ni cholas Pleasants
Pocahontas Summe rs T a yl or T ucker Upshur
Source: ARC at [http://arc.gov/index.do?nodeId=2934]

To address this issue, Senator George Voinovich introduced the Appalachian
Regional Development Act Amendments of 2006, S. 2832. The bill, which was
approved by the Senate on July 25, 2006, would create a new category of eligible
county — at-risk counties — and would increase the federal match requirement from
50% to no more than 70% of project costs across a range of ARC program areas
including economic development, health care services, regional job skills
partnerships, telecommunications, and business development. According to the
ARC, 81 counties meet the unemployment, poverty, and per capita income thresholds
for designation as an at-risk county. The states of West Virginia, Alabama, and
Kentucky have the highest number of communities meeting the at-risk thresholds.
Delta Regional Authority
Legislative History
On October 1, 1988, President Reagan signed into law the Rural Development,
Agriculture, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY1989.9 Title II of that
act, known as the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Act, authorized the creation
of the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission (LMDDC), and
appropriated $2 million to carry out the activities of the Commission.10 As outlined
in the authorizing statute, the Commission’s legislative mandate was to identify the
economic needs and priorities of the Lower Mississippi Delta region, and to develop
a 10-year economic development plan for the region. The act established the
administrative structure of the Commission to include two commissioners appointed
by the President and seven by the governors of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee, or their designees.11 Sec. 4(2) of
the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Act defined the “Lower Mississippi”
region as:
... those areas within a reasonable proximity of the Mississippi River in
Arkansas, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi,
southeastern Missouri, and western Tennessee that share common economic
social, cultural ties, and that suffer from any combination of high unemployment;
low net family income; agriculture and oil industry decline; a decrease in small
business activity; or poor or inadequate transportation infrastructure, health care,12

housing, or educational opportunities....
9 102 Stat. 2229.
10 102 Stat. 2246 authorized the creation of the Lower Mississippi Delta Development
Commission by including in the text of the act a reference to H.R. 5378 and S. 2836, House
and Senate bills creating the Commission. The act, P.L. 100-460, established the mission
of the Commission and its administrative structure, and identified counties to be included
in the definition of the Lower Mississippi Delta region for the purpose of carrying out the
activities of the Commission, as mandated by the act.
11 The state of Alabama was added in 2000 as a provision of the Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2001, P.L. 106-554 (114 Stat. 2763A-252).
12 P.L. 100-460, Sec. 4(2).

The act identified specific communities meeting the threshold definition for
inclusion in the region. It also included language allowing the Commission to
include other adjoining counties, when necessary, in order to carry out the purposes
of the act. It identified nine such adjoining counties in the definition of the region.
The LMDDC was chaired by then-Arkansas Governor William J. Clinton. Its
findings and recommendations were included in two reports: Body of the Nation: The
Interim Report of the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission, and the
final report entitled the Delta Initiatives: Realizing the Dream...Fulfilling the
Potential. The Commission’s operations were terminated on September 30, 1990.
The final report of the Commission included approximately 400 recommendations
aimed at improving the economic conditions of the region. The report served as the
catalyst for additional federal involvement in the region during the Clinton
During that Administration, several cabinet departments undertook studies and
initiatives, some congressionally mandated, aimed at addressing some of the issues
and opportunities confronting the region. Highlights include:
!On October 31, 1994, President Clinton signed into law the Lower
Mississippi Delta Region Heritage Study Act.13 Congress passed the
act as part of a followup to recommendations included in the 1990
report by the LMDDC. The 1994 Act directed the Department of the
Interior to prepare for Congress a study of significant natural,
recreational, historical or prehistorical, and cultural lands, water
sites, and structures located within the Delta region.
!In 1996, the Department of Transportation published Linking the
Delta Region with the Nation and the World. The report was a
response to the 55 transportation recommendations included in the
1990 report entitled Delta Initiatives: Realizing the
Dream...Fulfilling the Potential. The 1996 report noted that
between 1990 and 1995, nearly all the transportation-related
recommendations of the Commission had been implemented. The
report also noted that among “the most significant changes for the
Delta economy was improved access to intermodal transportation
terminals, combined with the increased capacity of those
terminal s.”14
!In July 1998, 10 federal agencies signed the Lower Mississippi Delta
Region Interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which
established a general framework for cooperation among the

13 108 Stat. 4512.
14 U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Linking the Delta
Region with the Nation and the World, available at
[http://www.tfhrc.gov/pubrds/winter96/p96w19.htm], visited Sept. 9, 2005.

participating agencies involved in economic revitalization initiatives
in the Delta region.15
!In 1999, the Department of Transportation published The Mississippi
Delta: Beyond 2000, An Interim Report. The report is an assessment
of the progress made in addressing the recommendations contained
in Delta Initiatives: Realizing the Dream...Fulfilling the Potential.
!In 2000, the Department of Agriculture and the Housing Assistance
Council published Improvements in Housing and Infrastructure
Conditions in the Lower Mississippi Delta, which outlined strategies
for improving housing and infrastructure conditions in designated
counties in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
On December 21, 2000, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act
for FY2001. The act included two provisions pertinent to the Lower Mississippi
Delta. First, the act amended Section 4(2) of the Lower Mississippi Delta
Development Act to include Alabama as a full member of the Delta Regional
Authority and identified nine Alabama counties to be included in the definition of the
Lower Mississippi Delta region.16 Second, Title V of the act authorized the creation
of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA). For the purposes of this act, the definition
of the Lower Mississippi region is the same as defined by Sec. 4 of the Lower
Mississippi Delta Development Act of 1988 — P.L. 100-460, as amended. The Delta
Regional Authority Act of 2000 established the administrative structure for the DRA
and charged the DRA with the mission of promoting economic development within
the region.
On May 13, 2002, President Bush signed the Farm Security and Rural
Investment Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-171). The act included provisions amending the
voting procedures for DRA member states, providing supplemental federal grants for
Delta projects, and identifying four additional Alabama counties as meeting the
requirements for inclusion in the region.
DRA Administrative Structure
The DRA’s administrative structure and duties and responsibilities are similar
to those of the ARC. The DRA has federal and state co-chairs. The state co-chair
is a governor of one of the member states and may serve a term of not less than one
year. The governing statute allows for the selection of both a federal and state
alternate to serve as a member of the DRA. Administrative expenses are split
between the federal government and the member states on a 50-50 basis. The DRA
is vested with the authority to enter into contracts, leases, and other agreements that
would further its mission. It may also establish compensation for its executive

15 Federal departments that signed the MOU included the Deptartments of Transportation,
Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Health and Human Services,
Labor, Education, and the Interior, as well as the Small Business Administration and the
Environmental Protection Agency.
16 114 Stat. 2763A-252.

director and other personnel, and may request temporary details of personnel from
other federal, state, local agencies.
DRA Designated Counties
Table 6 lists by state the counties and parishes included in the definition of the
Lower Mississippi Delta Region and the statutes authorizing their inclusion. Please
note two caveats when reviewing Table 6. First, several communities are included,
by statute, in the definition of the Lower Mississippi Delta Region, but do not meet
the requirements for designation as distressed counties or parishes. Those
communities appear in italics. Counties and parishes that do not appear in italics
have been designated as distressed and are eligible for DRA assistance. Second,
several other communities have been designated for inclusion in the definition of the
region as “distressed counties and parishes,” but were not identified in statute as
designated Mississippi Delta counties. The authorizing statute entries for those
counties and parishes are left blank. These communities were designated by the
DRA as distressed under the provisions of Section 2009aa-5 of Title VI of the
Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, as amended (7 U.S.C. 1921). (See
the following section on county and parish eligibility.)
Table 6. Designated Mississippi Delta Counties and Parishes
Count y AuthorizingSt at ut e Count y AuthorizingSt at ut e
BarbourP.L. 106-554LowndesP.L. 106-554
BullockP.L. 106-554MaconP.L. 106-554
ButlerP.L. 107-171MarengoP.L. 106-554
ChoctawP.L. 106-554MonroeP.L. 107-171
ClarkeP.L. 106-554PerryP.L. 106-554
ConecuhP.L. 107-171PickensP.L. 106-554
DallasP.L. 106-554RussellP.L. 106-554
EscambiaP.L. 107-171SumterP.L. 106-554
GreeneP.L. 106-554WashingtonP.L. 106-554
HaleP.L. 106-554WilcoxP.L. 106-554
ArkansasP.L. 100-460Lawrence P.L. 100-460
AshleyP.L. 100-460LeeP.L. 100-460
BaxterP.L. 100-460LincolnP.L. 100-460

Count y AuthorizingSt at ut e Count y AuthorizingSt at ut e
BradleyP.L. 100-460LonokeP.L. 100-460
CalhounP.L. 100-460MarionP.L. 100-460
ChicotP.L. 100-460MississippiP.L. 100-460
ClayP.L. 100-460MonroeP.L. 100-460
ClevelandP.L. 100-460OuachitaP.L. 100-460
CraigheadP.L. 100-460PhillipsP.L. 100-460
CrittendenP.L. 100-460PoinsettP.L. 100-460
CrossP.L. 100-460PrairieP.L. 100-460
DallasP.L. 100-460PulaskiP.L. 100-460
DeshaP.L. 100-460RandolphP.L. 100-460
DrewP.L. 100-460SearcyP.L. 100-460
FultonP.L. 100-460SharpP.L. 100-460
GrantP.L. 100-460St. FrancisP.L. 100-460
GreeneP.L. 100-460Stone P.L. 100-460
IndependenceP.L. 100-460UnionP.L. 100-460
IzardP.L. 100-460Van BurenP.L. 100-460
JacksonP.L. 100-460White P.L. 100-460
JeffersonP.L. 100-460WoodruffP.L. 100-460
AlexanderP.L. 100-460Perry
FranklinPopeP.L. 100-460
GallatinP.L. 100-460PulaskiP.L. 100-460
Hamilton Randolph
HardinP.L. 100-460SalineP.L. 100-460
JacksonP.L. 100-460UnionP.L. 100-460
JohnsonP.L. 100-460White
MassacP.L. 100-460WilliamsonP.L. 100-460
BallardP.L. 100-460LivingstonP.L. 100-460

Count y AuthorizingSt at ut e Count y AuthorizingSt at ut e
CallowayP.L. 100-460MarshallP.L. 100-460
CarlisleP.L. 100-460McCrackenP.L. 100-460
CrittendenP.L. 100-460Muhlenberg
FultonP.L. 100-460Todd
GravesP.L. 100-460UnionP.L. 100-460
HickmanP.L. 100-460Webster
AcadiaP.L. 100-460MorehouseP.L. 100-460
AllenP.L. 100-460NatchitochesP.L. 106-554
AscensionP.L. 100-460OrleansP.L. 100-460
AssumptionP.L. 100-460Plaquemines
AvoyellesP.L. 100-460Pointe CoupeeP.L. 100-460
CaldwellP.L. 100-460RapidsP.L. 100-460
CatahoulaP.L. 100-460RichlandP.L. 100-460
ConcordiaP.L. 100-460St. BernardP.L. 100-460
East Baton RougeP.L. 100-460St. CharlesP.L. 100-460
East CarrollP.L. 100-460St. HelenaP.L. 100-460
East FelicianaSt. JamesP.L. 100-460
EvangelineP.L. 100-460St. John the BaptistP.L. 100-460
FranklinP.L. 100-460St. LandryP.L. 100-460
GrantP.L. 100-460St. Martin
IberiaTangipahoaP.L. 100-460
IbervilleP.L. 100-460TemsasP.L. 100-460
JacksonP.L. 100-460UnionP.L. 100-460
JeffersonP.L. 100-460WashingtonP.L. 100-460

Count y AuthorizingSt at ut e Count y AuthorizingSt at ut e
La SalleP.L. 100-460W. Baton RougeP.L. 100-460
LafourcheWest CarrollP.L. 100-460
LincolnP.L. 100-460West FelicianaP.L. 100-460
LivingstonWinnP.L. 100-460
MadisonP.L. 100-460
AdamsP.L. 100-460MadisonP.L. 100-460
AmiteP.L. 100-460Marion
AttalaP.L. 100-460MarshallP.L. 100-460
BentonP.L. 100-460MontgomeryP.L. 100-460
BolivarP.L. 100-460PanolaP.L. 100-460
CarrollP.L. 100-460PikeP.L. 100-460
ClaiborneP.L. 100-460QuitmanP.L. 100-460
CoahomaP.L. 100-460RankinP.L. 100-460
CopiahP.L. 100-460SharkeyP.L. 100-460
CovingtonSimpsonP.L. 100-460
DeSotoP.L. 100-460SunflowerP.L. 100-460
FranklinP.L. 100-460TallahatchieP.L. 100-460
GrenadaP.L. 100-460TateP.L. 100-460
HindsP.L. 100-460TippahP.L. 100-460
HolmesP.L. 100-460TunicaP.L. 100-460
HumpheysP.L. 100-460UnionP.L. 100-460
IssaquenaP.L. 100-460WalthallP.L. 100-460
Jefferson P.L. 100-460WarrenP.L. 100-460
Jefferson DavisWashingtonP.L. 100-460
LafayetteP.L. 100-460WilkinsonP.L. 100-460
LawrenceP.L. 100-460YalobushaP.L. 100-460
LefloreP.L. 100-460YazooP.L. 100-460
LincolnP.L. 100-460

Count y AuthorizingSt at ut e Count y AuthorizingSt at ut e
BollingerP.L. 100-460PemiscotP.L. 100-460
ButlerP.L. 100-460PerryP.L. 100-460
Cape GirardeauP.L. 100-460PhelpsP.L. 100-460
CarterP.L. 100-460ReynoldsP.L. 100-460
CrawfordP.L. 100-460RipleyP.L. 100-460
DentP.L. 100-460ScottP.L. 100-460
DouglasP.L. 100-460ShannonP.L. 100-460
DunkinP.L. 100-460St. FrancoisP.L. 100-460
HowellP.L. 100-460St. GenevieveP.L. 100-460
IronP.L. 100-460StoddardP.L. 100-460
MadisonP.L. 100-460TexasP.L. 100-460
MississippiP.L. 100-460WashingtonP.L. 100-460
New MadridP.L. 100-460WayneP.L. 100-460
OregonP.L. 100-460WrightP.L. 100-460
OzarkP.L. 100-460
BentonP.L. 100-460HendersonP.L. 100-460
CarrollP.L. 100-460HenryP.L. 100-460
ChesterP.L. 100-460LakeP.L. 100-460
CrockettP.L. 100-460LauderdaleP.L. 100-460
DecaturP.L. 100-460MadisonP.L. 100-460
DyerP.L. 100-460McNairyP.L. 100-460
FayetteP.L. 100-460ObionP.L. 100-460
GibsonP.L. 100-460ShelbyP.L. 100-460
HardemanP.L. 100-460TiptonP.L. 100-460
HardinP.L. 100-460WeakleyP.L. 100-460
HaywoodP.L. 100-460

Note: Communities in italics have been designated by statute, but do not meet the
requirements for designation as distressed counties or parishes. Communities with no
statute listed are designated by meeting the definition of “distressed counties and parishes.”
Source: DRA.
County and Parish Eligibility
Section 2009aa-5 — Distressed Counties and Areas and Non-Distressed
Counties — of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, as amended (7
U.S.C. 1921) directs the DRA to establish criteria for designation of a county or
parish as distressed. For the purpose of the act, such counties and parishes must be
characterized as severely and persistently distressed and underdeveloped and have
high rates of poverty or unemployment. In addition, isolated areas of distress in
otherwise non-distressed counties and parishes may qualify for assistance if they have
high rates of poverty or unemployment. The designation of an area as an isolated
area of distress must be supported:
!by the most recent federal data available; or
!by the most recent data available to the state in which the isolated
area of distress is located.
The DRA adopted the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA)
definition of a “distressed county” for the purpose of determining a community’s
eligibility for funding. Under EDA rules, an area is considered distressed if it meets
one of the following criteria:
!An unemployment rate that is at least one percent higher than the
national average unemployment rate for the most recent 24-month
period for which data are available;
!Per capita income that is 80% or less of the national average per
capita income, for the most recent period for which data are
!A special need arising from actual or threatened severe
unemployment or economic adjustment problems resulting from
severe short-term or long-term changes in economic conditions, such
as: (a) substantial outmigration or population loss; (b)
underemployment of workers at less than full-time or at less skilled
tasks than their training or abilities permit; (c) military base closures
or realignments, defense contractor reductions in force, or
Department of Energy defense-related funding reductions; (d)
natural or other major disasters or emergencies; (e) extraordinary
depletion of natural resources; (f) closure or restructuring of
industrial firms, essential to area economies; and/or (g) destructive
impacts of foreign trade.
Section 2009aa-5 also directs the DRA to identify annually communities in the
region that meet the requirements for designation as distressed counties or parishes
or non-distressed counties and parishes containing isolated areas of distress. Of the
236 DRA counties, 214 counties met the required criteria at the time this definition
for distressed counties was adopted. The last calculation for distressed county or
parish designation was June 2004, with 227 of the 240 Delta Regional Authority

counties classified as distressed.17 The area served by the DRA is perhaps the most
distressed region in the country. Of the 240 counties comprising the region 238 have
incomes at or below the national poverty level.
Figure 2. DRA Coverage Area

Funding History
Congress has reduced funding for the agency significantly since its first
appropriation of $20 million in FY2001. Funding for the DRA has declined to $6
million for FY2005. However, for FY2006, Congress doubled the amount the
Administration requested, appropriating $12 million for DRA activities. The
additional funds will assist the DRA in supporting Hurricane Katrina recovery
17 “Delta Regional Authority Determination of Distress Criteria — As Approved by the
DRA,” available at [http://dra.gov/2005_federal_grant/version-attachment-a-1-2005-
distressed-counties.pdf], visited Sept. 9, 2005.

Table 7. DRA Funding Request and Actual Appropriations:
FY2001 to FY2006
(in millions of dollars)
Fiscal 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Re q. Ac t . Re q. Ac t . Re q. Ac t . Re q. Ac t . Re q. Ac t . Re q. Ac t .
DRA $30.0 $20.0 $20.0 $10.0 $10.0 $8.0 $2.0 $5.0 $2.1 $6.0 6 .0 12.0
Current Funding Request
Consistent with the Administration’s budget request, the House approved an
appropriation of $5.9 million for DRA activities. This is $6 million less than
approved by the Senate and appropriated for FY2006.
Table 8. Delta Regional Authority Funding, FY2007
(in millions of dollars)
Request H o use Senat e Conf .
Delta Regional Authority5.95.912.0
Northern Great Plains Regional Authority
Legislative History
On August 26, 1994, President Clinton signed into law the Northern Great
Plains Rural Development Act (P. L. 103-318). The act established the Northern
Great Plains Rural Development Commission (NGPRDC) and directed it to study
and make recommendations for improving the economic development prospects of
residents of rural Northern Great Plains communities. The Commission was charged
with developing a 10-year rural economic development plan for Northern Great
Plains (NGP) with the assistance of interested citizens, public officials, groups,
agencies, businesses, and other entities. The act established a 10-member
Commission comprising the governor, or the governor’s designee, from each of the
following five states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota,
and one member appointed from each of the five states by the Secretary of the United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The act charged the NGPRDC with developing a 10-year plan that would
address economic development, technology, transportation, telecommunications,
employment, education, health care, housing, and other needs and priorities of the
five-state region. The act encouraged the NGPRDC to develop the plan in
collaboration with Native American tribes, federal agencies, non-profit and

community-based development organizations, universities, foundations, and business
concerns. It conveyed to the NGPRDC the power to hire experts and consultants,
enter into contracts, and hold hearings related to its mission. The NGPRDC was
required to submit both interim and final reports within 18 months from the first
meeting date of the NGPRDC. The reports were to be submitted to the Secretary of
Agriculture, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Senate Committee on
Agriculture, the Speaker of the House, the House Agriculture Committee, the
President, and the governor of each of the five states.
The act directed the NGPRDC to include in the reports specific
recommendations intended to promote five key areas of concern: regional
collaboration, business development, capital formation, infrastructure expansion and
improvements, and education and training. The act established a sunset date for the
NGPRDC of September 30, 1997. The NGPRDC completed its work in 1997. Its
findings and recommendations were included in the Final Report of the Northern
Great Plains Rural Development Commission.18 The Commission identified six
broad themes and recommended 75 actions aimed at regional concerns raised in the
Northern Great Plains Rural Development Act.
In September 1997, the Northern Great Plains Initiative for Rural Development
(Initiative) was established to continue the work of the NGPRDC. The Initiative is
a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation. Its primary mission is to promote the
implementation of the NGPRDC’s 75 recommendations for action. The Initiative is
governed by a Board of Directors comprising both business and community leaders
of the region. A management team of five rural development leaders — one from
each of the five states in the region — provides volunteer staff services.
On May 13, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the Farm Security
and Rural Investment Act of 2002.19 Title VI of that act amended the Consolidated
Farm and Rural Development Act by inserting a new Subtitle G creating the Northern
Great Plains Regional Authority (NGPRA) and authorizing an appropriation of $30
million for each of the fiscal years 2002 through 2007 to carry out the activities of the
NGPRA.20 The act charged the NGPRA with implementing the recommendations
of the NGPRDC. It required the NGPRA to establish a multi-year development plan
for the five-state region. In addition, each member state was required to develop a
state plan that must be an integral part of the region’s multi-year development plan.

18 The report is available from the Northern Great Plains, Inc. ,
[http://www.ngplains.org/documents/NGP_Commission.pdf], visited Sept. 9, 2005. The
report, which was presented to Congress in March 1997, is an eight-part package consisting
of a narrative and reports from working groups on seven specific issue areas: value-added
agriculture, international trade, business development, telecommunications, transportation
infrastructure, health care, and civic and social capacity.
19 116 Stat. 134.
20 116 Stat. 375.

NGPRA Administrative Structure
Like the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Delta Regional
Authority (DRA), the NGPRA is a federal-state partnership led by a federal co-chair,
and one state co-chair selected from the governors of the five participating states:
Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Unlike its ARC and
DRA counterparts, the NGPRA also includes a representative of Native American
tribes located in the five state areas as a co-chair. Under the act, the federal
government was responsible for funding 100% of the administrative costs of the
NGPRA in FY2002, 75% in FY2003, and 50% in FY2004.
Yet another characteristic that distinguishes the NGPRA from ARC and DRA
(and the Denali Commission) is the creation of a non-profit entity to assist it in
carrying out its mission. Specifically, the act also designated Northern Great Plains,
Inc., a nonprofit 501(3)(c) created in 1997, with implementing the recommendations
of the NGPRDC and acting as the primary resource for it on regional issues and
international trade. Northern Great Plains, Inc., also supports research, education,
and training on issues affecting the region.21
At the local level, like the ARC and DRA, the NGPRA uses the existing
network of EDA-designated economic development districts to coordinate efforts
within a multi-county area. The NGPRA also may certify other organizations meeting
certain requirements as local development districts. A designated local development
district may receive NGPRA grants to cover 80% of its administrative costs for a
period of three years. These districts are responsible for serving as a liaison between
state, local, and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, the business community,
and the public. In addition, they assist in developing regional economic development
strategies, providing technical assistance to local communities, and assisting
organizations involved with leadership and civic development programs.
NGPRA Designated Counties
The act directed the NGPRA to develop distress criteria standards using
unemployment, population outmigration, and poverty data. Under the act, 75% of
funds must be targeted to the most distressed counties in each state, and 50% of
project dollars must be reserved for transportation, telecommunications, and basic
infrastructure improvements. Non-distressed communities containing isolated areas
of distress may receive no more than 25% of funds appropriated.22

21 116 Stat. 383.
22 For maps and a listing of distress criteria used and counties meeting the distress criteria,
see [http://www.ngplains.org/documents/all%20maps.pdf], visited Sept. 9, 2005.

Table 9. NGPRA Funding Request and Actual Appropriations:
FY2001 to FY2005
(in millions of dollars)
Fiscal 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Re q. Ac t . Re q. Ac t . Re q. Ac t . Re q. Ac t . Re q. Ac t . Re q. Ac t .
NGPRA — — — — — a — — a — — a — — a
a. The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, which was signed into law on May

13, 2002, created the NGPRA and authorized an appropriation of $30 million. However,

no funds have been appropriated or requested for the program since its authorization.
Denali Commission
Legislative History
Created by an act of Congress in 1998,23 the Denali Commission is unique
among the four federally chartered regional development authorities and
commissions. It is the only federally chartered regional development commission
targeted at a single state (Alaska). As outlined by its congressional charter, the
Commission’s mission included providing job training and other economic
development assistance to distressed rural areas in the state. The act also charged the
Commission with providing for rural power generation and transmission facilities,
modern communication systems, water and sewer systems, and other infrastructure
needs of remote areas in the state.
Administrative Structure
The seven-member Commission comprises a federal co-chair appointed by the
Secretary of Commerce, a state co-chair appointed by the governor of Alaska, and
one representative each from the Alaskan Municipal League, the University of
Alaska, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Executive President of the Alaska
State AFL-CIO, and the President of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska.
The federal co-chair of the Commission is selected from among persons placed in
nomination by the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate,
a unique characteristic of the process used to select the federal co-chair of a regional
commission. The act also mandated that the Commission develop a proposed annual
work plan for the state, including soliciting proposals from local governments and
other entities and organizations. The Commission must submit to the Secretary of
Commerce, the Commission’s federal co-chair, and the Office of Management and
Budget a report that outlines the proposed work plan and identifies infrastructure
development and job training funding priorities in the areas covered by the work
plan. In addition, the act allowed for public input and comment on the work plan. It

23 The Denali Commission Act of 1998, 42 U.S.C. 3121.

required the Secretary of Commerce to publish the work plan in the Federal Register
and to allow for a 30-day public comment period. Within 30 days after the public
comment period, the federal co-chair of the Commission may approve, disapprove,
or partially approve the work plan. When disapproving or partially approving a
work plan, the federal co-chair must specify the reasons for disapproval and include
recommendations for revisions that would result in its approval. If a work plan is not
approved or only partially approved, the plan must be submitted to the Commission
for review and revision, if applicable.24
Denali Designated Counties
As noted earlier, the Commission is charged with promoting rural development,
including promoting infrastructure improvements in rural areas, such as
improvements in power generation and transmission facilities, telecommunications,
and water and sewer facilities. The Commission is also charged with providing job
training and repairing or replacing, as appropriate, bulk fuel tanks. The Commission
defines a “rural area” as any community that
!lacks adequate public infrastructure;
!is so remote as to impose additional cost on persons and businesses
importing and exporting products, traveling to, and communicating
with, urban centers; or
!is a one-industry village or community located near a natural
resource with a small population and a low-wage labor pool.
The act did not identify specific criteria to be used in determining eligibility for
assistance; instead it left that task for the Commission. It did include language that
requires the Commission to provide job training and other economic development
services to residents of distressed rural communities and noted that many of these
areas have unemployment rates in excess of 50%. On May 5, 2005, the Commission
identified community distress criteria for 2005 and listed communities meeting the
criteria.25 The Commission identified the following thresholds for designation as a
rural distressed community:
!per capita income that does not exceed 67% of the national average;
!poverty rate in excess of 150% of the national average; and
!three-year unemployment rate of 150% of the national average.
A community also may qualify as distressed if its poverty rate is twice the national
average and it meets one of the other two criteria relating to unemployment or per
capita income.

24 The Commission’s work plan for FY2002 to FY2006 is available at
[http://www.denali.gov/Work_Plans.cfm], visited Sept. 9, 2005.
25 “Distressed Communities Criteria 2005 Update,” available at
[http://www.denali.gov/ Resource_Center/Progr am_Documents/Denali%20Commi ssion
%20Distressed%20Community%20Criteria%20May%202005%20Update.pdf], visited Sept.

9, 2005.

Concerned about the availability and timeliness of Census data in determining
the distress status of some communities, the Commission, in May 2005, identified
an alternative method of identifying distressed communities. The alternative method,
labeled the “surrogate standard,” uses community level data that are available
annually from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development,
Research and Analysis (ADLWDRA). In order for a community to qualify under
the surrogate standards as a distressed community, it must meet the following
! the average market income may not exceed $14,872;
!at least 70% of the residents 16 years or older may not have earned
more than $14,872 in 2003; and
!fewer than 30% of the residents of the community 16 years or older
were employed during all quarters of 2005.
The Commission also confers distressed status on non-distressed communities
that meet surrogate standard criteria when a plus or minus 3% formula is applied to
the criteria. A community must meet two of three criteria to be classified as
!the average market income is less than $15,318;
!at least 67% of the residents of a community 16 years or older may
not have earned more than $15,318; and
!fewer than 33% of residents of the community 16 years or older
were employed during all four quarters of 2003.
Table 10 lists communities by classification as distressed counties.

Table 10. Denali Commission Designated Distressed
Communities for 2006
AdukAkiachakAkiakAlakanukAlatna - See
Al l a ka ke t
Alcan Border -AlexanderAllakaketAnchor PointAnderson
See NorthwayCreek
AngoonAnvikArctic VillageBeaverBeluga — See
Alexander Creek
Bill Moore’s -CentralChase - SeeChefornakChevak
See KotlikTalkeetna
ChickenChignik LagoonChignik LakeChilkat - SeeChilkoot - See
Haines Haines
Chistochina -ChitinaCircleCircle Hot
See GakonaSprings - SeeClam Gulch
Ce ntr a l
Cooper Copper CenterCopperville -Covenant Life -Crooked Creek
LandingSeeSee Haines
G l e nna l l e n
Cube Cove - SeeDeltana - SeeDenali NationalEagleEagle Village -
Juneau RuralDelta JunctionParkSee Eagle
Edna Bay - SeeEekEgegikElfin CoveEmmonak
Ketchikan Rural
Excursion Inlet -Fort GreelyFort WainwrightGakonaGambell
See Juneau
Rur a l
GlennallenGoodnews BayGraylingGulkana - SeeGustavus
G a ko na
HainesHamilton - SeeHappy Valley -Harding-birchHoly Cross
Kotlik PointSee AnchorLakes - See
Hooper BayHopeHughesHusliaHyder
Ivanof Bay - SeeJakolof Bay -Juneau-ruralKakeKalskag
PerryvilleSee Seldovia
KaltagKarlukKasaan - SeeKasiglukKasilof
Ketchikan Rural
Kenny Lake -Ketchikan-ruralKipnukKivalinaKlukwan - See
See CopperHaines
Ce nte r
Ko b uk K o tlik Ko yuk K o yukuk Kwe t hluk
KwigillingokKwinhagak -LakeLower KalskagLutak - See
See QuinhagakMinchuminaHaines

Manley HotManokotakMarshallMarys Igloo -McCarthy - See
SpringsSee TellerGlennallen
McKinley Park -Mendeltna - SeeMeyers ChuckMintoMoose Pass
See DenaliGlennallen
Mosquito Lake -MountainMud Bay - SeeNapaimute -Napakiak
See HainesVillageHainesSee Kalskag
Naukati Bay -Nelchina - SeeNew Allakaket -New StuyahokNightmute
See KetchikanGlennallenSee Allakak
Nikolaevsk -NikolaiNinilchikNondaltonNorthway
See Anchor
NorthwayNorthwayNulatoNunam Iqua -Nunapitchuk
Junction - SeeVillage - SeeSee Sheldon
No rthway No rthway Point
Ohogamiut - SeeOld HarborOuzinkiePaimiut - SeePedro Bay
MarshallHooper Bay
PelicanPerryvillePetersville - SeePilot StationPlatinum
Trapper Creek
Point BakerPort AlexandriaPort AlsworthPort Protection Quinhagak
— See
Ketchikan Rural
RampartRed DevilRubyRussianSaint George
M i ssio n Island
SalchaSavoongaScammon BaySelawikSeldovia
Seldovia Village ShagelukShaktoolikSheldon PointShishmaref
— See Seldovia
ShungnakSilver Springs SkwentnaSlana — SeeStebbins
— SeeGakona Area
G l e nna l l e n
Sunrise SeeTalkeetnaTatitlekTetlinThorne Bay
TogiakToksook BayTolsona SeeTonsina — SeeTrapper Creek
GlennallenCopper Center
TuluksakTuntutuliakTununakUpper Kalskag Wales
— See Kalskag
Vene tie
Whale PassWhite Mountain WhittierWillowWillow Creek-
See KetchikanSee Copper
Rur a l Ce nte r
Y — See
T a lkeetna
Source: Denali Commission.
Note: An asterisk (*) denotes communities that successfully appealed to change status from non-
distressed to distressed. According to the Denali Commission, Fort Wainwright is a military base. Its

inclusion on this list is probably a quirk in the data series and may not be an accurate indicator that
Fort Wainwright meets the criteria as “distressed.
A community may successfully appeal its non-distress designation if it can
demonstrate that it meets a set of surrogate standard criteria when a plus/minus 3%
formula is applied to the criteria. Table 11 lists communities that do not meet the
2006 surrogate standard criteria for distressed communities, but do meet the criteria
when a plus/minus 3% formula is applied. To successfully appeal, a community
must meet two of the three surrogate standard criteria to be classified as distressed
under the plus/minus 3% formula change:
!Criterion 1: Average market income from unemployment insurance,
covered employment, and fishing is less than $15,318, rather than
$14,872 ($14,872 x 1.03 = $15,318).
!Criterion 2: More than 67% of residents earn less than $14,872,
rather than more than 70% of residents (70% — 3% = 67%).
!Criterion 3: Fewer than 33% of residents worked all four quarters of

2003, rather than fewer than 30% of residents (30% + 3% = 33%).

Table 11. Non-Distressed Communities That Meet Distressed
Criteria with 3% Formula, 2006
AleknagikAnaktuvukBig LakeBirch Creek -Buckland
Pass See Fort Yukon
CantwellChalkyitsikCoffman CoveCold Bay -Deering
Nelson Lagoon
Fort YukonHomerHoustonIliamna - SeeKiana
Kokhanok -MekoryukMetlakatlaNenanaNewhalen
See Newhalen
NoatakNoorvikPetersburgPoint HopePope-vannoy
Landing -
Port LionsSaint Marys,ShishmarefStevens VillageSutton
Pitkas Pt.
TakotnaThoms Place -Saint MichaelTokWainright
See Wrangell
Funding History
The only single-state federal regional development authority has seen a steady
increase in its annual allocation during the five-year period from 2001 to 2005. Its
annual allocation is comparable to that of the ARC. For FY2006, however, the
Congress appropriated $49.5 million for Denali Commission activities, which was
$17 million less than appropriated for FY2005.

Table 12. Denali Commission Funding Request and Actual Appropriations:
FY2001 to FY2006
(in millions of dollars)
cal 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Req. Act. Req. Act. Req. Act. Req. Act. Req Act. Req. Act.
nali $20.0$30.0$29.9$38.0$29.9$47.7$9.5$54.7$2.5$67.02.649.5a
ision directing the Commission to prepare a report outlining its projected allocations and use of
2006 appropriated funds. The report was to be submitted to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees by July
Current Appropriations Request
For FY2007, the Administration requested $2.5 million in support of the Denali
Commission. The House approved $7.5 for Commission activities, while the Senate
Appropriations Committee has recommended a funding level of $50 million.
Table 13. Denali Commission Appropriations, FY2007
(in millions of dollars)
RequestHouseSenate Final
Denali Commission2.57.550.0