Coal Mining

In this 2014 photo, coal miners return on a buggy after working a shift underground at the Perkins Branch Coal Mine in Cumberland, Ky. The Kentucky coal industry has laid off thousands of workers in over the last several years. AP

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. On Wednesday the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration announced a $38.8 million investment to flourish the economies in communities impacted by coal via distribution to 29 projects.

The projects are a part of the Obama Administration’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative to encourage economic growth and opportunity in communities that have relied on the coal economy for economic consistency in the past. The POWER Initiative is a part of Obama’s POWER+ Plan that consists of a wider set of investments in coal-impacted communities, workers, and coal technology that were suggested in the President’s FY 2017 budget.

The Wild Ramp, a local food retailer located in Huntington, W. Va. is a partner with one of the recipients of this investment. The Central Appalachian Food Enterprise Corridor received a $1.5 million grant and predicts creating/retaining 370 jobs, creating or improving over 250 local businesses, and attracting at least $2 million in additional partner investments to reinforce local food production, processing, and distribution in five Appalachian states over the next five years.

“Appalachian communities are actively engaged in creating diverse local economies that are resilient, sustainable and strong. Local leaders and entrepreneurs will use these investments to develop, direct, and implement economic diversification initiatives which will have long-lasting impact,” said Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl, who joined West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin for the announcement at The Wild Ramp.

With the overall 29 projects, over 3,400 jobs are expected to be created and/or retained in agriculture, technology, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, and other varied areas in communities affiliated with coal. They have also brought in an extra amount of $66.9 million in leveraged investments from other public and private partners.

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