Economic development leaders back Appalachian Highway

Posted on April 27th, 2010

— As economic development professionals in our various communities, our organizations share a common purpose to expand existing businesses, attract new businesses and create a maximum element of job growth in the region.

While each office functions individually and develops its own commerce-driven agenda, we recognize one issue of critical importance to each of our counties and municipalities — the North/South Appalachian Highway.

This main transportation corridor, defined as U.S. Route 219 North and U.S. Route 220 South, will provide a commercial connection to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interstate 76, and Corridor H in West Virginia and greatly expand the opportunity to grow any business that depends upon truck transport.

The development of a north/south transportation passage, complimented by the existence and proven success of Interstate 68, would serve to create opportunities for business growth and sustainability for our future generations.

In February 2009, The Greater Cumberland Committee, through the unanimous support of its membership, identified the North/South Appalachian Highway as a core economic driver and publicly declared that its advancement would be their main priority for expanded growth.

Their efforts have been enhanced by the support of elected officials at the local, state and federal levels.

As the year progressed, our development offices joined a growing list of North/South Appalachian Highway Coalition members who are fully engaged in the prospect of revitalizing our communities through the creation of thousands of new jobs. We recognize the domino effect created by this development is simply staggering.

The realization that economic development “takes a long time” is an understatement in this regard; however, we are approaching this challenge with renewed fervor. Completion of the North/South Appalachian Highway will create a transportation hub for the regional economy with easy access to surrounding cities, including Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh and Morgantown, W.Va.

Unquestionably, this critical piece of infrastructure creates a landscape of economic opportunity we are proud to support.

Matthew W. Diaz, Allegany County

Jim Hinebaugh, Garrett County

Mona Ridder, Mineral County, W.Va.

Jeff Silka, Somerset County, Pa.