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Watch: Saban, local leaders tout investment potential in Appalachian Alabama

Alabama’s rural and traditionally economically deprived Appalachian region has benefited from increased investment of late.

This injection of funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has served to enhance the quality of life in Alabama communities and create value for local economies.

To demonstrate the impact ARC has had in the Yellowhammer State, the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association produced a video highlighting first-hand accounts, including that of Nick Saban, speaking to the funding’s impact in local communities.

ARC is a federal-state partnership signed into law by President John F. Kennedy. Its intention was to bolster the economic potential of 13 states, including Alabama and 37 of its 63 counties, within the Appalachian Mountain range.

Since 2013, ARC has invested $79.5 million in 479 projects across Alabama’s Appalachian region. Those projects attracted $105.8 million in matching funds. This served to leverage $1.03 billion in additional private investment for the benefit of Yellowhammer State students, workers, businesses and households.

From providing infrastructure development, securing student technology material, and boosting tourism projects, among many other vital local initiatives, ARC funding has been paramount in successful community undertakings.

Tami Reist, president and CEO of Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, said the video was produced to showcase the impact ARC holds in the communities within its purview.

“We are so excited to share this video regarding Appalachian Alabama. After going through the Appalachian Leadership Institute, I realized many people weren’t aware that Appalachia was in their communities,” said Reist. “So I put this video together as a gift that we’re giving back to ARC to help people realize how important Appalachia is to our communities. This video can help not only showcase the beauty of our region, but also display the way in which Appalachia can give back through grants.

“We also want to thank Coach Saban, someone with a servant’s heart, for being part of this video. Having been raised in Appalachian West Virginia, along with sharing his experience in Tuscaloosa, we felt like he would be a great influencer to share the story.”


In the video, Saban is featured talking about the service-oriented spirit of Appalachia that he insisted added to the richness of the region’s culture.

“All the lessons of life I learned in West Virginia contributed to any success that I’ve had more than anything else,” said Saban. “The work ethic, the perseverance, the ability to overcome adversity. But also, have good relationships with people, have compassion, for other people, help other people when you can — because there are needs in all communities.”

“The biggest need that we try to address is: How do we create opportunities for young people? How do we try to create opportunities that they have a better chance at being successful in their life? You know, everybody’s not blessed with the same opportunities.”

Saban said there were “a lot of good people where I grew up, including here in Alabama, that do try to serve other people.”

“You know, you’re really trying to help somebody else for their benefit — not for your benefit,” he said. “And I think that helps the culture, I think that helps the community, I think that helps the togetherness. That’s service.”

Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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