HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Communities in states hard-hit by coal layoffs are about to receive nearly $39 million in federal grants aimed at helping people get back to work. The Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor announced the following grants on Wednesday:
Shoals Entrepreneurial Center in Florence: $1 million for an entrepreneurship program in a nine-county region in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Southern Research Institute in Birmingham: $60,000 to create a plan for business development in coal communities.
University of Pikeville, Kentucky: $7.5 million for equipment and materials to help launch a new College of Optometry.
Eastern Kentucky Concentrate Employment Program, Hazard, Kentucky: $2.8 million for workforce development initiative.
Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Berea, Kentucky: $2 million to expand retraining and entrepreneurial technical assistant services for former coal industry workers.
University of Kentucky Research Foundation in Lexington: $1.5 million, for downtown revitalization projects in eight Kentucky communities.
Ohio University in Athens, Ohio: $2 million to create an entrepreneurial hub.
Youngstown State University, Youngstown: $23,000 to develop a plan for a manufacturing center that would serve 14 counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Pennsylvania Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship Inc. in Russell: $500,000 for nature tourism development.
Texas Workforce Commission: $560,000 to provide re-employment services to 85 workers affected by recent layoffs in the coal industry.
Appalachian Sustainable Development in Abingdon, Virginia: $1.5 million to coordinate a distribution network of local foods in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
Southwest Virginia Community College in Cedar Bluff: $1.4 million for retraining for laid-off coal miners.
Advantage Valley Inc. in Huntington: $250,000 for a study to identify commercial development sites.
Bluewell Public Service District, Bluefield: $2.5 million to extend public water service to the Mercer County Regional Airport.
Coalfield Development Corp. in Wayne: $1.9 million for job development and entrepreneurship investment initiatives.
Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, Charleston: $2.2 million to help teachers educate future workforce participants to create their own businesses.
Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority in Man: $1.4 million to expand tourism-related employment and business in southern West Virginia, and expand the Hatfield McCoy Trail in Kentucky and Virginia.
Mingo County Redevelopment Authority and Mingo County Public Service District in Williamson: $1.6 million to extend water lines to the Mingo County Air Transportation Park on top of a reclaimed surface mine.
Natural Capital Investment Fund Inc. in Shepherdstown: $1.3 million for a project to expand an entrepreneurship program in southern West Virginia.
New River Gorge Regional Development Authority in Beckley: $1 million to provide technical support for startup businesses.
New River Gorge Regional Development Authority in Fayetteville: $120,000 to study the feasibility of establishing a regional loan fund for community economic investments.
Randolph County Development Authority in Elkins: $1.8 million for an expansion project involving hardwood manufacturers.
The EdVenture Group in Morgantown: $10,000 for an economic diversification project in 12 counties.
Upshur County Development Authority, Buckhannon: $2.3 million for construction of a business incubator.
West Virginia Development Office: $200,000 for a plan to develop the former Hobet Surface Mine Site in Boone and Lincoln counties.
In addition, the Appalachian Regional Commission funds will support multiagency projects to address key issues in Appalachian coal communities, including:
— $750,000 for research of opioid abuse and related problems of HIV and hepatitis C.
— $400,000 for technical assistance to help 10 coal communities in Alabama, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia use broadband service to promote economic development.
— $352,000 to help coal industry-related companies get international trade support, coordinated by the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
— $60,000 for a partnership with the National Association of Counties Research Foundation to provide additional technical assistance to 11 teams from Appalachian coal communities in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.