On August, 24, 2016, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Economic Development Administration announced $38.8 million investment to stimulate economic growth and opportunity in communities that have historically relied on the coal economy for economic stability. These investments are part of the Administration’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. With this announcement, 29 large scale projects will help Appalachian communities that have been negatively affected by changes in the coal economy—including mining, coal-fired power plants, and related transportation, logistics, and manufacturing supply chains—strengthen their economies and workforces.  These investments are anticipated to attract an additional $66.9 million in leveraged investments to the Region and created and/or retain over 3,400 jobs.

“The projects and awards we are here to celebrate today help communities persevere and flourish as they deal with the challenges presented by the coal economy,” said Jay Williams, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “POWER invests in jobs and workers, and develops and implements strategies and projects that can help transform these respective regions, states, and our nation.”

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin joined ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams at The Wild Ramp in Huntington, West Virginia for today’s announcement.

The POWER Initiative is a multi-agency effort aligning and targeting federal economic and workforce development resources to communities and workers 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. The POWER Initiative is part of President Obama’s POWER+ Plan, a broader set of investments in coal-impacted communities, workers, and coal technology that is in the president’s FY 2017 budget. Today’s awards were granted from the $65.8 million in POWER funding announced by ARC and EDA in March, 2016.

Specifically, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority was the recipient of almost $1.1 million in funding to support two specific projects:

  1. Planning (U.S. EDA) for Regional Revolving Loan Fund / CDFI Feasibility Study
    Grant Award: $120,000
    Total Project: $150,000
    Supporting Partners: Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation, Wyoming County Economic Development Authority, and Strong Mountain Communities.
    Summary: The NRGRDA and regional partners will use this grant funding to assess the feasibility of establishing a comprehensive regional loan fund that would provide capital in the most challenged communities of southern West Virginia.
  1. Implementation (ARC) for Entrepreneurial Economy through the WV HIVE Network
    Grant Award: $967,500
    Total Project: $2,138,400
    Supporting Partners: West Virginia University, Region 1 WorkForce Development Board, National Coal Heritage Area, New River Community and Technical Colleges, West Virginia SBDC, City of Hinton, One Foundation, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and other private foundations.
    Summary: The NRGRDA was awarded grant funding to expand WV HIVE Network efforts to include hiring two additional business coaches, a social enterprise coach, and establish a technical assistance fund, expand marketing efforts, and recruit businesses and entrepreneurs in our communities.

“Appalachian communities are actively engaged in creating diverse local economies that are resilient, sustainable and strong.” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl. “Local leaders and entrepreneurs will use these investments to develop, direct and implement economic diversification initiatives which will have long lasting impact.”

As NRGRDA Executive Director, Chad Wykle, explained “This funding will allow for some transformational work to take place in southern West Virginia. We are humbled by the award, impressed with the investment being made, and motivated to make it count.”

Additional information about the POWER Initiative, including summaries of the announced awards, is available at www.arc.gov/power or www.eda.gov/power. For a quick numbers and fact reference, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/08/24/fact-sheet-administration-announces-new-economic-and-workforce.

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