- American Rescue Plan
WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden will announce the Appalachian Climate Technology (ACT Now) coalition as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades. Funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Regional Challenge is awarding approximately $62.8 million in grants to ACT Now, led by Coalfield Development Corporation, to create a hub of clean energy and green economy jobs.
With this funding, ACT Now will spur job growth in 21 economically distressed and coal-impacted counties in southern West Virginia by creating a hub of clean energy and green economy jobs. The coalition will support the transition from coal to solar power and will implement sustainable reuse projects on abandoned mine sites, rejuvenate brownfield sites with new facilities, and develop entrepreneurial programs to support employment.
“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge will help support workers, businesses, and communities as they transition to clean energy jobs and industries. This funding is indispensable in ensuring that clean energy goes hand in hand with equity and justice, while serving the specific needs of this community,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The ACT Now coalition will transform the former coal economy into a modern, clean regional economy, supporting new jobs and building resiliency to thrive in a global economy.”
“The Economic Development Administration is proud to support the bold vision of Coalfield Development Corporation,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This EDA investment will develop complementary regional projects and opportunities in the clean energy industry, creating a coordinated, regional economic road map.”
“I was proud to commit $2 million in State matching funds to this project through our Department of Economic Development, and now I’m even more excited to celebrate the official selection of ACT Now as one of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge winners,” said West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. “This grant funding will be an absolute game changer for the 21 West Virginia counties that will see the impact of these grant dollars in job creation, training, and community development like you can’t imagine. We’ve embraced an all of the above energy strategy in West Virginia, and we are incredibly thankful for the continued support of the EDA as we work together to continue diversifying our economy. I sincerely thank the EDA, ACT Now, and all those that made this possible.”
“West Virginia continues to see the benefits of the critical American Rescue Plan investments that drive economic development and create good-paying, long-term jobs, and today’s announcement is great news for our entire state,” said West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. “It is a testament to our hardworking fellow West Virginians and forward-thinking communities that West Virginia was one of just 21 recipients of the EDA’s Regional Challenge program. I’m pleased the EDA is investing nearly $63 million in communities across southern West Virginia to strengthen local economies, support our energy industries and expand job opportunities. This is an incredible opportunity and I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of this funding for years to come.”
The ACT Now coalition is one of 21 winners – each a regional coalition of partnering entities – that will receive awards between $25 million and $65 million to implement an average of six integrative projects that will enable each region's economic transformation and competitiveness.
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) is an unprecedented competitive federal grant program that provides each regional coalition with significant investments to tackle a wide variety of projects – including entrepreneurial support, workforce development, infrastructure, and innovation – to drive inclusive economic growth. Each coalition’s collection of projects aims to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters – all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally. Projects span 24 states and include $87 million to two primarily Tribal coalitions and over $150 million for projects serving communities impacted by the declining use of coal.
The 21 BBBRC awardees were chosen from 60 EDA-designated finalists that each received approximately $500,000 in funding and technical assistance to continue developing their cluster strategies. The funding for each coalition is approximate, with awards to be signed later in September. Those 60 finalists were chosen from a Phase 1 applicant pool of 529 applications, which exemplifies the tremendous demand for transformational economic development approaches. EDA will continue to support all 60 finalists with the creation of a Community of Practice that will provide technical support, foster connectedness with peer regions and build capacity.
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is one of EDA’s many programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. As a part of this funding, EDA allocated $300 million through a Coal Communities Commitment to support coal communities in pandemic recovery and help them create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. Specifically, EDA has dedicated $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities. Grantees for EDA’s full suite of American Rescue Plan programs will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022. For more information, visit https://www.eda.gov/ARPA/.
About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
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 invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.