CHARLESTON -- Gov. Joe Manchin has been selected by the governors of the Appalachian states to serve as Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) states co-chair for the year 2007.

The governor will assume the leadership position, currently held by Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, in January.

"I am honored to serve as states co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission," Manchin said. "Our states, our region and our country must chart a new course to supply more of our own energy resources to be more energy independent.

"The ARC has taken a leading role in these efforts with its focus on development of a regional energy blueprint for our resource-rich region. With the pending federal reauthorization of ARC, I look forward to working with our leaders on Capitol Hill to ensure that the Commission has a viable future to continue addressing the many critical infrastructure and economic needs of our region."

Manchin will assist with the ARC's continued development of an energy plan for the Appalachian region. He also currently serves a chairman of the Southern States Energy Board, a regional organization composed of 16 southern states and two U.S. territories that focuses on enhancing economic development in the south through innovations in energy and environmental policies, programs and technologies.

"I welcome the selection of Governor Joe Manchin III of West Virginia as the 2007 States' Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission," ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne Pope said. "He is a leader with vision who has devised an innovative energy plan for his state that will help the Commission in implementing its own recently announced regional energy blueprint. I look forward to working with him on all the economic challenges facing the Appalachian Region."

Established by Congress in 1965, ARC is a unique federal-state partnership composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a presidential appointee representing the federal government. Grassroots participation is provided through local development districts-multi-county organizations with boards made up of elected officials, business people and other local leaders.

The commission is dedicated to providing opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life in the Appalachian states. The Appalachian Region includes 406 counties in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The West Virginia Development Office administers the state's ARC program.

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