|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Assistance to Coal Communities||2||$1,440,025|
|Economic Adjustment Assistance||2||$560,891|
|Regional Innovation Program||1||$150,000|
|Trade Adjustment Assistance||1||$1,162,386|
San Miguel County, CO - Rural western Colorado is heavily dependent on coal mining, an industry currently experiencing large job losses in the region. The announced closure of a local coal fired power plant will leave 55 workers unemployed and result in the loss of 65 percent of local taxes. This job loss and loss of tax receipts will negatively affect area schools, medical clinics, libraries, public services and the overall local economy; leading to the conclusion that the region needs to develop a more diversified and resilient economy.
In September 2017, EDA invested $760,025 in Economic Adjustment Assistance, through Assistance to Coal Communities funds, to purchase a 20-year Indefeasible Right of Use for fiber strands in order to complete infrastructure required to deliver broadband services to communities in San Miguel County. Because the population is sparse, broadband providers have little incentive to promote better service, and there is limited opportunity for competition among providers. Improved broadband service is key to creating new economic development opportunities in the region. The availability of connecting to world markets will facilitate entrepreneurship, encourage new businesses to enter the market, and help existing businesses looking to grow.
EDA’s investment will support this rural region of the State to improve accessibility and competitiveness and deliver broadband access to communities in isolated areas. Access to high speed internet will help this rural, coal-reliant region of Colorado become more diversified and resilient by encouraging business development that will lead to the creation of jobs and assist in the area’s economic recovery from the coal industry job losses.