~ Grants leverage cultural, natural, community, structural and economic assets in Virginia’s Appalachian Region ~
Governor Terry McAuliffe recently announced more than $6.6 million in grant funding has been awarded, through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), to entities in the Appalachian Region of Virginia, which encompasses 25 counties and eight independent cities in Southwest Virginia. An additional $21.4 million in funding was awarded to projects that will benefit communities in other states.
The funding was awarded through the Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) grant program. The POWER Initiative is a federal multi-agency effort aligning and targeting federal economic and workforce development resources to communities and workers 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.
“Each of the Virginia POWER grants announced today takes us one step closer to building the new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “From the tourism and agriculture industries to drone technology and cybersecurity, we must do everything we can to leverage our homegrown assets and create opportunity and economic diversification in our coalfield regions. Today’s announcement is a big step forward and I thank the Appalachian Regional Commission for this investment in Virginia’s future. ”
Grant announcements for Virginia include:
- A $3 million award to Friends of Southwest Virginia to fund the Building Appalachian Spring: Growing the Economy of Southwest Virginia project, enhancing the outdoor recreation industry as an economic driver in a four-county region in southwestern Virginia.
- A $2.2 million award to Wise County Industrial Development Authority’s Virginia Emerging Drone Industry Cluster Project, positioning five counties in Southwest Virginia as a national destination for the development of a drone-operator workforce to support the emerging drone industry in the United States.
- Approximately $1.4 million to Cedar Bluff-based Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) for the Southwest Virginia Regional Cybersecurity Initiative, an initiative that brings together three colleges in Southwest Virginia – SWCC, Mountain Empire Community College, and University of Virginia’s College at Wise – to position this seven county Southwest Virginia area as a regional hub for the cybersecurity industry.
In addition to the large project funding, Virginia is one of four states to receive a Technical Assistance POWER grant. The more than $11,100 grant will provide grant writing assistance to raise funds for Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network, the creation of a regional brew cluster that will strengthen Virginia’s agriculture and tourism industry in the region.
“Cybersecurity and autonomy are two industries that hold tremendous economic and job growth potential for Southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson. “These funds will help ensure dislocated workers and first-time job seekers receive the cutting-edge training they need to be successful in these vital growing industries.”
“Today’s announcement leverages many of the unique assets of Southwest Virginia to assist a region that has been hit by the decline of the coal mining industry and the off-shoring of many jobs by employment sectors that were traditionally strongholds in this area,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Through our partnership with the ARC program and the POWER initiative grants announced today, we continue to support this region to create a thriving and diverse new Virginia economy.”
Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission Earl Gohl added, “These federal investments will enable Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities to continue their work developing innovative paths towards economic resilience. They will directly support the Region’s emerging industries, which are making Appalachia America’s next great investment opportunity.”