WASHINGTON – This week, the Appalachian Regional Commission announced nearly $2 million in additional awards to continue strengthening the economies of Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities.
According to a release from the ARC, these investments will help grow an emerging local agricultural network, develop an innovative suite of training programs to serve growing industries and provide technical assistance with strategic planning for an emerging social enterprise in Central Appalachia.
The awards were made through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, a congressionally funded multi-agency strategy bringing federal resources directly to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.
n $596,250 to the Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) in Cumberland, Kentucky, to develop an innovative series of training programs in hospitality, technology, construction, and other emerging sectors.
n $101,981 to the Southern Appalachian Labor School in Kincaid, West Virginia, for technical assistance to establish a social enterprise focusing on construction and housing.
n $1,200,000 to the Natural Capital Investment Fund, Inc., in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to continue local food systems development work across 58 counties in five Appalachian states through the Central Appalachian Network.
“These projects are part of an ongoing strategy to strengthen Appalachia’s economy, especially in areas hit hardest by recent coal mine job losses,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl. “Agriculture, manufacturing, entrepreneurship, technology, and construction are all part of the Region’s economic future.”
With the awards announced Wednesday, ARC has invested a total of more than $94 million in 114 awards through the POWER Initiative to diversify the economies of 250 coal-impacted counties across 11 Appalachian states in the past year, Gohl said.
“Together, these investments have leveraged more than $210 million in private investment – a ratio of more than 2 to 1,” he said. “These investments are projected to create or retain nearly 8,800 jobs and benefit thousands of workers and students.”
According to ARC research, Appalachia lost a total of 33,500 coal-mining jobs between 2011 and 2016, representing 82 percent of America’s job losses in this sector. Over 67 percent of these jobs – more than 22,500 jobs – were in coalfield counties in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.
ARC POWER investments directly benefit these counties by preparing workers, creating jobs, and attracting additional capital support for the Region’s emerging technology, manufacturing, agriculture, and entrepreneurial sectors, Gohl added.
More information about ARC’s work in diversifying the economies of Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities, including a full list of POWER investments to date and videos of grantees describing their work, are available at www.arc.gov/power.