Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced more than $4 million in grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. The funding will support workforce development, community revitalization and expanded health service efforts through economic development initiatives in the Appalachian region.
“The downturn of the coal industry has impacted regional economies across Appalachia, making regional partnerships and collaborative community efforts more important than ever as we diversify the Appalachian economy,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Not only will these projects support economic growth and development in Appalachian communities, but they are in line with my administration’s 2022 Virginia Energy Plan, focusing on a more realistic and dynamic future for Virginia’s energy production and consumption.”
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. More than $47 million in funding for 52 projects across 181 countries was made possible by the ARC POWER initiative. Since POWER launched in 2015, ARC has invested $366.6 million in 447 projects across 360 coal-impacted counties.
“As we focus on growing Virginia’s economy, we must ensure that Appalachian residents and businesses have the resources they need to create thriving and robust communities,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “With this new round of investment through ARC’s POWER grants, coal-impacted communities will have the resources they need to capitalize on their strengths, address community-identified challenges and continue to build a stronger, more resilient Appalachia.”
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. In Virginia, 25 counties and eight cities comprise the ARC region.
2022 ARC POWER Virginia Awardees:
Food Sector Workforce Expansion in Central Appalachia | $1,500,000
Appalachian Sustainable Development
The Appalachian Sustainable Development, in partnership with ACEnet, Coalfield Development, Sprouting Farms, Rural Action and the Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council, will address challenges facing agricultural producers and food processors as they scale operations to reach wholesale markets. This project will create a transformative workforce ecosystem, overlaid on a strong food sector value chain, to create economic and social benefits in rural communities in Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, West Virginia and Southeast Ohio. Additionally, this project expects to serve 125 existing businesses, create 40 new businesses, serve 310 workers and trainees and create 53 new jobs.
New River Water Trail Expansion Project | $1,500,000
New River Valley Regional Commission
The New River Valley Regional Commission will construct or improve four public launches along the New River Water Trail, as well as expand the New River Trail website, which connects the Water Trail to existing activities and businesses in the area. Additionally, the project will support a substantial volunteer effort and conduct ongoing river stewardship efforts that will maintain the river access points into the future. This project will serve the 15 communities along the New River, providing important visibility and connection between the New River Water Trail and regional tourism and attracting an estimated 1,500 new visitors each year.
Dick and Willie Passage Trail 6A Completion | $665,000
Henry County will complete the last mile of an existing 2.96-mile gap in the D&W trail, Virginia’s longest public trail, connecting neighborhoods to opportunities for shopping, dining, entertainment and the new Riverview park, as well as make improvements to the “Bike Barn,” a low-cost bike loan program that allows both visitors and residents to affordable bike the length of the trail. This project has been a longstanding regional goal, connecting to wider efforts both to promote Virginia’s regional trail system and to further foster Virginia tourism.
Expansion of Dental Services for Central Appalachia | $500,000
The Health Wagon
The St. Mary’s Health Wagon will facilitate education and training of new dental professionals, as well as provide comprehensive oral health care services for individuals referred from the Health Wagon’s mobile services and stationary clinics. The project plans to support individuals impacted by the loss of coal jobs, lack of dental insurance, and others who have dental health issues that can cause barriers to employment. This project will create four jobs, improve the lives of 2,000 patients and improve six trainees through clinical workforce training over the course of one year.