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Program # of Grants EDA Funds
Assistance To Coal Communities 1 $790,118
Economic Adjustment Assistance 1 $400,000
Partnership Planning 7 $462,000
Regional Innovation Strategies 1 $500,000
Technical Assistance 1 $15,000
Total 11 $2,167,118

During the last six years, coal mining in Utah has experienced annual declines in employment. The primary cause for this reduction in coal mining and the associated adverse economic impacts is the transition away from coal to electric power generation.

In September 2016, EDA invested $790,118 in Assistance to Coal Communities funds to support the University of Utah with identifying the processes related to conversion of coal into carbon fiber, conducting a supply chain map, implementing programs to locate manufacturing operations in the coal communities, and pairing workforce needs with the economic impact of the conversion process and market. The University will partner with other organizations to review and evaluate current commercial technologies and processes for production of coal pitch and the conversion of coal pitch into carbon fiber.

The development of the coal resources and coal pitch based composites can be a key driver in furthering growth of this leading edge industry. Utah’s adversely impacted communities will be poised to take advantage of the continued growth in the global carbon fiber market, which is expected to grow from $1.8 billion in 2013 to $3.3 billion by 2019. The demand for composite materials has grown substantially over the past 25 years with new applications in transportation and wind energy development. The production of Utah coal pitch carbon fiber could help retain mining jobs in Utah, and support and create downstream jobs using an otherwise unused by-product. This project will continue to provide and expand economic livelihoods for families in Utah.

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