WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today announced several grants through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) totaling $9,335,158.
This funding aims to grow West Virginia’s economy and will support a variety of projects and programs in Cabell, Kanawha, Marion, Mercer, Mingo, Monongalia, Nicholas, Putnam, Randolph and Webster counties, with the potential to impact several more.
“I have worked vigorously to help address the needs of West Virginia’s struggling coal communities, including making certain that EDA and ARC officials understand the unique challenges facing our state. Although federal funding won’t undo the harmful effects of overreaching regulations, I am hopeful that the grants announced today will have a positive impact on West Virginia’s road to economic recovery,” said Senator Capito.
In May 2015, Senator Capito invited Assistant Secretary Williams to visit West Virginia and see the state’s challenges firsthand. This May, Senator Capito hosted a meeting with the West Virginia delegation and Assistant Secretary Williams about the need for investments made by EDA to bolster the state’s most distressed communities and get West Virginians back to work.
“This administration’s harmful regulations have devastated our state’s economy but we must continue to fight to make sure every out-of-work coal miner has access to meaningful job opportunities,” Senator Manchin said. “That is why over the past year I have been hosting job and resource fairs throughout the state, to connect hardworking West Virginians with meaningful employment and job training opportunities. I have always said that government cannot create every job, but it can create an environment that promotes job growth and fosters economic expansion. West Virginians are the hardest working and most dedicated in the nation and given the opportunity all they want to do is work. I’m glad this funding will help us continue down the road to revitalization and will support job creation in areas that have been hardest hit by the downturn in the coal industry.”
Specific Grant Awards from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC):
Bluefield Commercialization Station project, City of Bluefield - Bluefield/Mercer County
EDA Funding - $2,040,000
Under this project, the city, in partnership with the Shott Foundation, will rehabilitate and transform an existing 50,000 square foot freight station into an incubator to serve new and existing businesses. This project will provide high-tech business services including prototype development, product design and development, retooling, and supply chain assistance. This project will support the creation and retention of 72 jobs, expand at least 12 local businesses, and leverage $510,000 in private investment.
Sprouting Farms project, Marshall University Research Corporation – Huntington/Cabell County
ARC Funding - $1,502,938
The project will facilitate the development of a vibrant agricultural industry in a nine-county area in southern West Virginia by educating new farmers, launching farm businesses, jump-starting wholesale market channels, and encouraging business and farm sustainability. ARC funds will be used to: implement workforce and farm business accelerator training programs; secure and upgrade the project site and facilities; and provide direct business support and employment to new agricultural businesses and program graduates. The project will create 20 new businesses and 33 new jobs, and leverage $961,475 in additional investment. Additional funding is being provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
Building Entrepreneurial Communities: The Foundation of an Economic Transition for Appalachia, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
ARC Funding - $1,747,806
The project will build and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in an 18-county region covering southeastern Ohio, southern West Virginia and southeastern Kentucky. Project activities include: establishing a support system that can identify and develop new entrepreneurs; assisting new and expanding businesses with skill development; and connecting entrepreneurs with existing capacity-building resources in the region. The project will create 72 new businesses and 250 new jobs.
Appalachia RISES (Revitalizing an Industry-ready Skilling Ecosystem for Sustainability) Initiative, Hocking College – Nelsonville, Ohio
ARC Funding - $1,422,965
The project will leverage the expertise of regional education, business and government entities to deliver comprehensive workforce training services in employment fields that meet current and anticipated industry needs in North Central Appalachia, including advanced energy, automotive technology, petroleum technology, welding and commercial driver's licenses (CDL). The project will train 306 workers over the life of the award, and primarily serve a 17-county region covering southeastern Ohio and central West Virginia.
Appalachia Angel Investor Network project, RAIN Source Capital, Inc.
ARC Funding - $499,480
ARC funds will enable the awardee to work with existing and new angel investment funds to enhance the capability of coal-impacted communities across nine Appalachian states to make investments in start-up, early stage, and growth companies. Specifically, the project will create at least four new angel funds in target communities, and will provide tools, training, and support services to existing angel funds and networks already operating in Appalachia. The project will result in the creation of 20 new businesses and 100 new jobs, and will leverage $4,000,000 in private investment from 100 investors.
WV Rural Health Infrastructure Loan Fund project, Center for Rural Health Development, Inc. – Hurricane/Putnam County
ARC Funding - $362,989
ARC funds will assist in capitalizing a revolving loan fund designed to strengthen the health care industry in a 25-county region in central West Virginia. In addition, the award will provide technical and business development assistance to existing health care providers with business-related needs. The project will create or retain 65 jobs, yield $1,000,000 of financing for health care businesses, and provide 216 organizations with technical assistance.
Reconnecting McDowell, Inc. – Charleston/Kanawha County
ARC Funding - $150,000
Funding will be used to create an economic development and diversification strategy for the City of Welch and McDowell County centered on the Renaissance Village Apartments, a housing project that will develop rental housing in downtown Welch for teachers and young professionals employed in the area. Renaissance Village will serve as an anchor for redevelopment efforts in the downtown area and provide affordable housing. The planning project will assist with an entrepreneurship and small business initiative, along with financial and operations modeling for Renaissance Village.
West Virginia Connecting Communities Inc. in partnership with the New River Gorge Trail Association – Charleston/Kanawha County
ARC Funding - $140,000
Funds will be used for the development of an economic feasibility study for a regionally-connected bike trail system in Fayette and Nicholas Counties. The focus of the study will be the viability of linking over 500 miles of bike trails and the impact to small communities throughout the region.
Region 4 Planning and Development Council – Summersville/Nicholas County
ARC Funding - $123,488
Funds will be used to develop a strategic plan for the Upper Kanawha Valley. In partnership with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, the plan will include prioritizing economic strategies, building regional collaboration across counties, and assisting communities to create greater economic diversification that fosters sustainability.
Healthy Workforce Initiative: Workforce Empowerment and Opioid Recovery Center, Williamson Health and Wellness Center – Williamson/Mingo County
ARC Funding - $105,000
Funding will be used to provide grant writing assistance, and develop a feasibility study, a strategic plan, and preliminary architectural design work for a vacant building in Williamson’s downtown. If deemed viable, the building will be rebuilt as a one-stop facility that would provide workforce training, opioid addiction and substance abuse treatment services to assist individuals in recovery to become employment ready. The service area will include counties in West Virginia and Kentucky.
West Virginia Community Development Hub – Fairmont/Marion County
ARC Funding - $93,495
Funds will be used in partnership with the International Economic Development Council to provide technical assistance to five coal-impacted counties (Boone, Greenbrier, Lincoln, McDowell and Wyoming) through economic development mentoring for local community teams. As a result of this investment, community teams will develop local economic diversification strategies.
Randolph County Development Authority – Elkins/Randolph County
ARC Funding - $90,000
Funds will be used to develop a strategic plan focused on the promotion and expansion of the hardwood industry cluster. In partnership with the Hardwood Alliance Zone, the strategic plan will assist in strengthening the economy of the nine-county region. The project will build on the recent EDA and ARC POWER grants that are enabling a local wood products manufacturer to expand its operations.
Webster County Economic Development Authority – Webster Springs/Webster County
ARC Funding - $60,000
Funds will be used to conduct a feasibility study for the development of a multi-county All-Terrain Vehicle trail system in five counties. This grant will assist in developing a major tourism asset for the region and create opportunities for local small businesses. The project will work in partnership with the Hatfield McCoy Trail Authority.
Coalfields Cluster Mapping Initiative research project, Region 1 – Planning and Development Council – Princeton/Mercer County
ARC Funding - $497,000
Funds will be used to map the coal industry supply chain across the tri-state region of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. The resulting information will complement ongoing work undertaken by other ARC-funded projects, examining the extent of the decline in the coal economy and providing business technical assistance to aid the impacted supply chain firms in their return to growth and profitability.
Economic Analysis of Coal Industry Ecosystem in Appalachia project, West Virginia University Research Corporation – Morgantown/Monongalia County
ARC Funding - $349,999
This study will examine the full ecosystem of the coal industry in Appalachia through an in-depth quantitative analysis. Specifically, this research will identify, quantify, and map data on all relevant coal industry activity throughout the Appalachian Region. The three tasks of this research project are to: identify all components of the coal ecosystem and estimate the supply chain impacts in Appalachia; examine the implications of the coal industry downturn on freight rail, barge, and truck transportation in Appalachia; and develop a typology of regional economies that surround the coal-fired plants in the region using both econometric and input-output techniques.
Strengthening Economic Resilience in Appalachian Communities project, Downstream Strategies – Morgantown/Monongalia County
ARC Funding - $149,998
This research will explore and document strategies and policies local leaders can use to enhance the future economic prospects of coal-impacted communities throughout the Appalachian Region. There are four key components to this research project: develop a comprehensive, quantitative framework to explore economic resilience; identify a series of best-practice strategies for strengthening local economic resilience; conduct up to 10 in-depth case studies; and produce a concise guidebook that interprets and integrates findings of the research, written specifically for local economic development practitioners.