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Regional commission invests in Dawson County
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Sewer lines at the outlet mall, support of adult education and dollars set aside to ease traffic at the county's busiest intersection are among projects the Appalachian Regional Commission has had a direct hand in bringing to Dawson County.

"When you think back on all the technological achievements over the last 50 years--the number of roads and the infrastructure projects that have been completed--and the general increase in the level of education, jobs and overall economic improvement we have all seen through these decades," said Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County.

"We need to keep in mind that the ARC played a critical role in all of those efforts. They have truly been our partners in growth and prosperity."

Established by Congress in 1965, ARC is made up of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair appointed by the president.

The agency's 420-county territory includes 25 million residents and pieces of 12 states stretching from New York to Mississippi.

"Dawson County has been fortunate to have the ARC as a long-term partner in growth and development," Auvermann said. "Many people do not realize that Dawson County is part of the Appalachian Region, but through their help we have seen financing for many projects over a rather long period of time."

The commission has spent $66.5 million since its founding for projects in the 13 counties that make up the Gainesville-based Georgia Mountains Regional Commission.

That funding includes nearly $6 million in the past five years, said Heather Feldman, the GMRC's economic development director.

She cited other numbers, including 1,089 jobs created and another $7.9 million in local funding leveraged because of the ARC funding.

The agency's work "has served to strengthen the region's economy and improve living standards in our Appalachian counties," Feldman said.

Projects funded by the agency have "created jobs, encouraged business development, increased education and job training opportunities, and improved telecommunications, infrastructure and transportation" in the region, she said.

Since forging the partnership in 1974 with a $21,000 grant to build a child care center, Dawsonville and Dawson County have received a combined $1,919,757 grants from the commission, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

"In celebrating the work of the Appalachian Regional Commission, we must look back to see the progress we've made," said Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan.

The city just recently received funds from a 2012 grant application that is bringing $300,000 in sewer system upgrades and improvements to Dawsonville.

"Dawsonville and Dawson County have both benefited from our partnership with the ARC," he said.

In the coming months, motorists traveling along Ga. 400 will notice a new addition made possible by the partnership.

"At one point, they were going to fund the overpass at 53 and 400, and as a matter of fact, the $12.5 million is coming from the Appalachian Regional Commission to do this continuous flow intersection," said Dawson County Commission Chair Mike Berg. "They have been doing things for us since the 90s and have been a good source for money for Dawson County."

DCN regional staff contributed to this story.