Three hundred and fifty community activists from around Appalachia, which includes thirteen states from southern New York to northern Mississippi, gathered in Pittsburgh this week for a conference about transforming the region. While nationally Appalachia is often portrayed as a poor, rural region suffering from the loss of coal jobs, Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, which sponsored the two-day conference, says there is also a lot of excitement about new ways to grow the region’s economy. “Appalachia has a whole variety of opportunities and assets, and as we grow and we move forward, you’re going to see that develop,” he says.
LISTEN: “Appalachian “Innovators” Offer New Ideas for the Region” https://www.alleghenyfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/AF102017_Julie_Innovators.mp3
The conference opened with a discussion about the opioid epidemic, and other health problems, and explored why and how the region can address health as part of a stronger, sustainable future. Gohl says Pittsburgh is