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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

Obama Administration Announces Nearly $28 million In Additional Investments to Strengthen the Economy in Nation’s Coal-Impacted Communities

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42 Projects Will Expand Economic and Workforce Development in Coal-Impacted Communities in 13 States

Big Stone Gap, Va., and Salt Lake City, Utah — The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) today announced nearly $28 million in investments to grow the economy in the nation’s coal-impacted communities. The 42 grant awards to projects in 13 states are part of the Obama Administration’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative to stimulate economic growth and opportunity in communities that have historically relied on the coal economy for economic stability.

“Today’s POWER grants serve as catalytic funding that will leverage and target additional investments from the private sector and other federal agencies, facilitate community-based partnerships, and help create good paying jobs,” said Jay Williams, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “The Economic Development Administration is committed to helping coal-impacted communities across the country transform, grow, and sustain their economies.”

These awards supplement the 29 POWER grants totaling $38.8 million announced in August. In 2016, the POWER Initiative has invested $66.3 million in 71 projects to diversify local and regional economies and train workers in 15 states in agriculture, technology, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, and other diverse industry sectors in the nation’s coal-impacted communities.

“These federal investments will enable Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities to continue their work developing innovative paths towards economic resilience,” said Earl F. Gohl, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. “They will directly support the Region’s emerging industries, which are making Appalachia America’s next great investment opportunity.”

The awards were announced simultaneously in Salt Lake City, Utah, by Williams, and in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, by Gohl. Today’s announcement includes a total of $7.675 million from EDA, including $790,000 for the University of Utah to test and verify the economic feasibility of converting coal-derived pitch into carbon fiber composite materials for use in multiple industries; and a total of $20.297 million from ARC, including $3 million for the Friend of Southwest Virginia in Abingdon, Virginia to enhance southwest Virginia’s growing tourism industry; $2.2 million for the Industrial Development Authority in Wise County, Virginia, to train and prepare skilled workers for jobs in the Region’s emerging drone industry; and $1.4 million for Southwest Virginia Community College and a consortium of community colleges to providing training and technical assistance to expand opportunities in cybersecurity.

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 plants, 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 (PDF), a broader set of investments in coal-impacted communities, workers, and coal technology proposed in the president’s FY 2017 budget. Today’s awards were made from the POWER funding opportunity announced by ARC and EDA in March 2016.

A summary of today’s announced awards is available as a White House Fact Sheet.

Additional information about the POWER Initiative is available at www.arc.gov/power and at www.eda.gov/power.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission (www.arc.gov)
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

About the Economic Development Administration
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. To learn more about EDA, visit www.eda.gov.