Since 1962, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission has been the designated regional planning body for the Pioneer Valley region, which encompasses 43 cities and towns in the Hampden and Hampshire county areas. PVPC is the primary agency responsible for increasing communication, cooperation, and coordination among all levels of government as well as the private business and civic sectors in order to benefit the Pioneer Valley region and to improve its residents' quality of life. Although PVPC is a public sector agency, it is not a direct arm of the federal or state governments. Rather, it is a consortium of local governments that have banded together under the provisions of state law to address problems and opportunities that are regional in scope. As a result, PVPC's planning area is designated as a special district under the provisions of state enabling legislation. PVPC is funded through modest annual assessments from its member communities, state and federal grant programs, fees for administering community development block grants, and matching funds.