|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Assistance To Coal Communities||6||$6,503,449|
|Economic Adjustment Assistance||1||$1,782,000|
Southern West Virginia is nationally renowned as a culturally and geographically distinct region. Located in the heart of the Appalachian Coal Basin, southern West Virginia is known for its coal mining. This region continues to suffer from high unemployment rates, long-term poverty, ongoing population decline, the loss of businesses that had provided well-paying jobs, and the deterioration of an economy that had been based on a single industry—coal mining.
In September 2016, EDA invested $2 million in Public Works funds to the City of Bluefield to assist 13 counties in retaining and creating new businesses and enabling expansion to occur through targeted product development and diversification. Since the September 2016 investment, the City of Bluefield is in the process of renovating a historic 50,000 square foot railroad freight station as an innovative industrial incubator. The Bluefield Commercialization Station, with the assistance of the Center for Applied Research and Technology, will provide on-site services including prototype development, production engineering, fabrication assistance, commercialization services, and business development assistance to create, expand, and re-open the struggling manufacturing industry in southern West Virginia. The mission is to assist entrepreneurs and existing industry in developing new products that will foster economic diversification and promote the entrepreneurial spirit crucial for an economy to expand.
The facility already has its first tenant who has developed a patent pending industrial prototype. This new company has partnered with a struggling local fabrication company to revitalize the local company by working together on the manufacturing of needed casings and parts. With the new businesses established through the City of Bluefield’s initiative, an increase in jobs and economic growth are expected.