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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia will receive more than $2.5 million in grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. The funding will support broadband infrastructure expansion, workforce development, and job growth efforts through economic development initiatives.
“As our economy recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, it is critical to invest in Appalachia,” said Governor Northam, ARC Co-Chair. “ARC’s POWER initiative will continue to build on the region’s strengths and address its challenges, driving growth and opportunity throughout Appalachia. These projects demonstrate how regional collaboration can spur innovation, encourage entrepreneurs, diversify our economy, and support the critical infrastructure needed to bridge the digital divide, all of which strengthen Appalachian communities.”
In February, Governor Northam was elected by Appalachia’s 13 governors to serve as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s states’ co-chair for 2021.
The ARC POWER Initiative is a congressionally funded program that helps communities and regions affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production. $46.4 million in funding for 57 projects across 184 counties was made possible by the POWER initiative as part of the efforts to support economic diversification in the Appalachian region.
“Ensuring Appalachian residents and businesses have resources to create thriving and robust communities has been a top priority for this administration,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This funding will foster employment opportunities, critical infrastructure improvements, and broadband expansion, helping to build a stronger and more resilient economy in the Appalachian region.
“The downturn of the coal industry has impacted economies across Appalachia. That’s why ARC’s POWER initiative helps to leverage regional partnerships and collaborations to support efforts to create a more vibrant economic future for coal-impacted communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Many of the projects we announced today will invest in educating and training the Appalachian workforce, nurturing entrepreneurship, and supporting infrastructure—including broadband access. These investments in our Appalachian coal-impacted communities are critical in leveling the economic playing field so our communities can thrive.”
2021 ARC POWER Virginia Awardees:
Buchanan/Tazewell Wireless Communication Job Growth Corridor | Virginia Coalfield Coalition | $1,000,000
The Virginia Coalfield Coalition will build six new, fiber-lit cell towers along a 20-mile stretch off U.S. Route 460. A public-private partnership with a national wireless service ensures the coverage provided by these new cell towers will fill the current service gaps. The project is expected to serve 25 existing businesses and facilitate business retention and recruitment at industrial parks in the region.
Central Appalachian CDC: Bringing Community Development Investment to Coal-Impacted Communities | Appalachian Community Capital | $1,500,000
Appalachian Community Capital and its partners will create high-quality community development and entrepreneurial opportunities by helping communities and businesses access new sources of capital. Serving five central Appalachian states (North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia), the project will provide 40 coal-impacted communities with technical assistance, guidance, and outreach support. This will lead to a portfolio of investments that provide sufficient financial and social returns. Financial support for the project will be provided by the CDFI Fund at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Dogwood Health Trust, Goldman Sachs, and OhioSE Economic Development Financial. The project is expected to create 15 businesses and 3,000 jobs, while also leveraging $400 million in private investment.
Project Trace | LENOWISCO Planning District | $49,875
The LENOWISCO Planning District, in partnership with Invest SWVA, will determine the feasibility of adapting or creating an ag-tech tool to track and report food miles of specialty grains grown in Southwest Virginia. This tool will help capture the value that Southwest Virginia grains add to the industry, increasing grain market opportunities for area farmers and driving additional revenue.
Established in 1965, ARC is a federal agency focused on economic development in the Appalachian region. Grants administered by ARC support initiatives that build a strong and sustainable asset-based economy in Appalachia. The funding for these projects serve as catalysts for bringing jobs and prosperity to the region’s communities.
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