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Program # of Grants EDA Funds
Assistance To Coal Communities 2 $749,958
Economic Adjustment Assistance 1 $57,809
Partnership Planning 7 $447,000
Public Works 1 $1,031,960
Regional Innovation Strategies 1 $499,720
Trade Adjustment Assistance 2 $1,742,092
Total 14 $4,528,539

The West Elk Mine in Gunnison, Colorado declared bankruptcy in June 2016. Since then, 75 percent of the mining jobs have been lost, causing a tremendous adverse economic impact on the city and throughout the region. The exodus of reliable, high-paying coal jobs has left a hole in the local economy. Many of the residents struggle to find job opportunities matching their skill level. The city needed a stable and high-wage alternative to the mining industry that dominates the local economy.

In September 2016, EDA invested $649,958 in Assistance to Coal Communities funds to help Western State Colorado University create a collaborative multi-agency innovation center and laboratory, called “The ICELab.” ICELab will attract investment from angel networks and venture capital firms to create new and diversified job opportunities for the City of Gunnison’s residents. Western plays an integral role in providing workforce development and education opportunities by coordinating with organizations throughout the region to bolster small business growth. Western uses the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) to connect top mentorship-driven and seed-stage accelerators around the world.

The ICELab project will enhance entrepreneurial activity within the region by creating a robust pipeline of business start-ups and private sector investment by fostering collaborative innovation projects.

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