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May 25, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Central Appalachia towns poised to capitalize on concerns about climate change

A new report from Invest Appalachia says communities in the region are well-positioned to become top choice locations for Americans moving as a result of climate change.

Invest Appalachia, a Hazard, KY-headquartered impact investment organization serving the people of Central Appalachia, has released a new report, “Climate Resilience in Central Appalachia: Impacts and Opportunities,” that aims to improve economic resilience for the region.

The evidence-based analysis shows that Central Appalachian communities, including towns in Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, are well-positioned to become top-choice locations for Americans moving as a result of climate change. The report also identifies new opportunities for investment as well as community-driven strategies to build economic resilience for the region.

“The ‘Climate Resilience in Central Appalachia’ report aims to situate Appalachia within the broader climate resilience dialogue, and provide a basis for collective planning and action towards a resilient future for the region,” said Andrew Crosson, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Appalachia. “The findings show that we need bold changes in policy, investment, and economic development strategies in order to prepare Appalachian communities for an increasingly climate-impacted future.”

The report shows that concerns about climate change are becoming a driver of where Americans choose to live and that Central Appalachia is one of the best-positioned regions in the nation to receive an in-migration of residents. The report was developed through extensive research, practice-based analysis, and peer review from community organizations, government agencies, higher education, and technical experts. The report’s authors combine a review of the academic literature and expertise from research institutions along with analysis rooted in the lived experience and on-the-ground outlook of Appalachian residents, industry leaders, and community development.

The report highlights areas that are currently under-represented in climate discourse,
policymaking, and investments – such as attention to locally-based businesses, community amenities, and infrastructure – as essential elements of a climate mitigation strategy that drives economic resilience.

The report can be downloaded here.

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