WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today announced the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded a total of $5,927,807 to support economic development projects across West Virginia in Summersville, Logan, Charleston, Bluefield State College and Pierpont Community & Technical College in Fairmont.

“As a long-time advocate for ARC's role in growing West Virginia's economy, I'm pleased to see this funding benefit communities across West Virginia," said Senator Capito. "This funding will support workforce retraining in key industries like advanced and aerospace manufacturing and grow capacity in new industrial sectors, all helping to boost and diversify West Virginia’s economy."

“These grants will help train students, create jobs, link together our communities and diversify the economy of our state,” Senator Manchin said. “Both the quality of life for West Virginians and the state’s economy continue to improve due to the assistance of these ARC grants. These dollars ensure successful economic development for our state now and in the future.”

“Each one of these awards is a blueprint for new jobs, fresh opportunities, and a robust economic future for West Virginia.” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Earl F. Gohl. “Together, these investments bring added capital into the Region, and help Appalachia prepare to globally compete in manufacturing, technology, construction, and a variety of other industry sectors.”

Project details below: 

  • Bluefield State College (BSC) in Bluefield, West Virginia will receive a $1.5 million ARC grant for equipment and program support for the Center of Excellence in Manufacturing Engineering (CEME). The leading-edge training and lab equipment will prepare existing workers and new students, including displaced coal industry workers, to meet the demands of new manufacturing technology and processes. In response to changing industry needs and emerging markets BSC recently updated its degree and workforce training programs to offer the new Manufacturing Engineering Technology program of study. This project will build the capacity and equip that program so that it may train new students, displaced coal miners, and other workers impacted by the decline of the coal industry. The Center will provide consultation, assessments, and other technical assistance to mining equipment and service companies to help them innovate, develop new product lines, and streamline existing services. The Center will focus on collaborative robotics and offer services and training related to 3D printing, design for manufacturability, and adaptive manufacturing methods.  These activities collectively will create a strong manufacturing sector in an area that has been heavily dependent on coal.  The Center will serve 15 businesses and 250 students and lead to the creation of approximately 100 jobs.
  • Washington Greene County Job Training Agency, Inc. in Washington, Pennsylvania will receive a $1,489,945 ARC grant for the Appalachian Region Code (ARCODE) Initiative. The ARCODE Initiative will teach high-demand skills in software engineering and development to displaced workers from the coal sector in southwest Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  It harnesses and combines the software training expertise of Mined Minds, a proven software development training organization, and CentralApp, an international software solutions developer.  The two will work together to provide courses and certifications needed to qualify for high-demand technology jobs, enabling participants to work locally for companies that can be located anywhere in the world.  Mined Minds will provide a supply of certified tech talent that program partners and others will be able to hire locally or contract for short-term, labor-intensive projects. CentralApp trainees who obtain certifications will have access to CentralApp Talent Exchange and will obtain work from its customer base of thousands of active Salesforce customers, systems integrators, and consultancies. The project will train and place 71 workers in computer tech jobs at seven or more companies.
  • Pierpont Community & Technical College in Fairmont, West Virginia will receive a $1,017,308 ARC grant for Powering Up the Aerospace Workforce in Coal-Impacted Communities of West Virginia project. The ARC grant will help to increase the number of former coal miners who graduate from workforce training and two-year degree programs at The Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center (NAEC) in Bridgeport, West Virginia, a joint venture of Pierpont Community and Technical College and Fairmont State University. NAEC provides the state’s only FAA-certified aerospace training, degrees, and certifications. The project will maintain and build existing components of the NAEC program, including the Aircraft Structures training program, the Aviation Technician associate’s degree program, and the Airframe and Power Plant certificate program. The project will also provide funding for the development of a new 12-month Avionics certificate program.  The project rests on a strong partnership with private sector aerospace companies.  It is expected that 130 students will enroll in these programs and 89 students will complete the various training programs as a result of the grant. 
  • The Region 4 Planning and Development Council in Summersville, West Virginia will receive a $999,963 ARC grant for the Linking Trails and Communities to Spawn Economic Growth: The Southern WV Bike Trail Network project. The investment will create a regionally connected bike trail system and build on the region’s strengths and potential for outdoor recreation and increased tourism. The trail system will be located in Fayette, Nicholas, and Greenbrier counties—areas hit hard by job losses in the coal industry—and will traverse sections of the Monongahela National Forest, the New River Gorge National River, the Babcock State Park, and other key recreational areas. The project will focus on building new segments and improving existing ones that will provide the greatest economic impact by facilitating access to towns, businesses, and other tourism anchors. Major activities will include trail construction and mapping, developing a trail maintenance program, and facilitating partnerships with local business incubators and regional development organizations to support business creation.  The project is expected to attract $3 million in new revenue through increased visitors to the area.
  • The PRIDE Community Services in Logan, West Virginia will receive an $899,791 ARC grant for the BuildJobs Initiative project. In an effort to develop a pool of construction trade professionals for the region, the BuildJobs Initiative will provide training programs with career pathways and re-employment opportunities in construction trades for displaced coal economy workers.  It will also provide entrepreneurial support for participants who wish to create new businesses in the construction sector. PRIDE will implement the project in partnership with EnAct Community Action, MountainHeart Community Services, Southern Community Action Council, Coalfield Community Action Partnership, and Southern West Virginia Technical College. The BuildJobs Initiative will focus on five ARC counties in southern West Virginia that have been adversely affected by the decline in the coal industry sector: Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, and Wyoming. The project will help create 15 new businesses and serve over 120 students.
  • The KVC Health Systems, Inc. in Charleston, West Virginia will receive a $20,800 ARC technical assistance grant for the KVC Health Systems College project. The technical assistance will help KVC Health Systems develop a feasibility study for the KVC College concept, which envisions repurposing the former campus of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Fayette County into a specialized, accredited college with a focus on young adults emerging from foster care. The feasibility study will evaluate the site for redevelopment and determine the appropriate workforce and life skills programming that will benefit the region. The downturn in the regional coal economy and the closure of the WVU Tech branch campus provide an opportunity to recruit and create a skilled workforce and make non-residential educational programming available. Once the feasibility study and workforce plans are completed, KVC Health Systems will explore various funding opportunities to implement the full concept.