The White House announced awards for 29 economic and workforce development projects totaling $38.8 million for workers in the Appalachian Region hit hard by the reduction of coal mining.
The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative is a coordinated Administration effort, involving ten federal agencies, with the goal of effectively aligning, leveraging and targeting a range of federal economic and workforce development programs and resources to assist communities and workers that have been 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 sector.
The POWER Initiative is the primary economic and workforce component of President Obama’s broader POWER+ Plan, part of his FY 2017 budget request to Congress. The POWER+ Plan proposes more than $9 billion of investment to support economic diversification in coal communities; employment and training services for workers displaced from the coal economy.
POWER Implementation Awards of note:
$2,500,000 total (a $1,500,000 ARC grant and a $1,000,000 EDA grant) to the Bluewell Public Service District in Bluefield, WV for the Mercer County Regional Airport Development and Diversification Initiative. POWER funds will be used to extend public water service along Route 52 and Airport Road to the Mercer County Regional Airport.
$2,022,133 ARC grant to the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) in Berea, KY for the Economic Transition for Eastern Kentucky (ETEK) Initiative. The ARC award will expand fast-track retraining and entrepreneurial technical assistance services targeted to dislocated coal workers; establish an intern program aimed at placing former coal workers in the energy efficiency sector.
$1,870,000 ARC grant to the Coalfield Development Corporation in Wayne, WV for the Appalachian Social Entrepreneurship Investment Strategy. ARC funds will be used to incubate job-creating social enterprises; scale-up Coalfield Development Corporation’s innovate 33-6-3 on-the-job training/education/life skills workforce development model; and expand Coalfield Development Corporation’s service territory to other coal-impacted areas in Southern West Virginia.
$1,648,400 EDA grant to Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (MCRA) and Mingo County Public Service District in Williamson, WV for the Mingo County Air Transportation Park Infrastructure Improvements project. The project will provide potable water to the Mingo County Air Transportation Park atop a reclaimed surface mine in the center of the county, which MCRA is positioning as an industrial site for light and advanced manufacturers. It will include construction of approximately 62 thousand feet of water line, a 500 gallon-per-minute booster pumping station, a one-million-gallon water storage tank, and other related equipment, as well as an on-site sewage, aeration, and absorption system. The project will create and retain 520 jobs and leverage $9,000,000 in additional investment.
$1,417,375 ARC grant to Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in Cedar Bluff, VA for the Retraining Energy Displaced Individuals (REDI) Center for Dislocated Coal Miners program. The REDI program will provide fast-track reemployment services directly to displaced coal miners -- equipping them with the necessary skills to get back to work in a high-demand field, earning comparable wages to their previous employment. Through an intensive, accelerated program of coursework, workers can obtain credentialed skills in as little as four months, rather than the more traditional training periods of a year or more. Training will be focused on three sectors with local employment opportunities: advanced manufacturing, construction, and health technology. The program will certify 165 new trainees over the life of the award.
$2,750,000 ARC grant to the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program) in Hazard, KY for the TechHire Eastern Kentucky Initiative: Developing a Technology-Driven Workforce project. The project will serve young adults aged 17-29 who are out of school, and older adults who are unemployed, laid-off, or underemployed by offering several avenues to industry-led accelerated technology training, paid work-based internships, and employment opportunities in IT careers.