CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce Revitalization (POWER) program is giving out seven project awards worth a total of $5,844,534 throughout the Mountain State.
Senate Appropriations Committee members, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said some of the projects include expanding broadband access, substance use recovery programs and a tri-state aviation maintenance technician program.
“I have always said that West Virginians are the most hardworking people, they just need a chance to prove it. ARC has given our state that chance, with over $52 million in investments from the POWER grant program since 2015,” Manchin said. “These awards will support projects to expand broadband access, implement substance use disorder peer recovery programs, and support economic development across the state. This year’s POWER awards are yet another example of the strong partnership between West Virginia and ARC, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact of these projects for years to come.”
ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas the POWER Program is a congressionally funded initiative that targets federal resources to help 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.
“POWER grants are playing a critical role in supporting coal-impacted communities in the Appalachian Region as they recover from COVID-19 by building and expanding critical infrastructure and creating new economic opportunities through innovative and transformative approaches,” said Thomas. “Projects like this are getting Appalachia back to work.”
Established in 1965, the ARC is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government, Capito and Manchin said. The commission reaches across 13 States and 420 counties, and West Virginia is the only state fully within its jurisdiction.
“As we make unprecedented strides in connecting our state and diversifying our economy, continued support from ARC helps move our state forward even faster. These POWER awards are a positive step toward economic recovery in West Virginia,” Capito said. “The people of our state are defined by their character, their dedication to hard work, and their ability to get the task done. I am thrilled to see so many different opportunities being provided to deserving people across the Mountain State and look forward to working with ARC to support more projects in the future.”
West Virginia has received nearly $96 million from ARC since 2015. The funding can be broken down as an allocation that goes to the state, which then determines the awardees, and annual POWER grants, awarded on a competitive basis from the ARC, according to the senators.
The Mountain State has received $43.735 million in allocated funding and been awarded more than $52.2 million in POWER Grants since the start of 2016 when the program began, the senators say.
“The Thundercloud project is the virtual ribbon that will tie everything together to make Huntington the economic gateway of the Appalachian region. This will position Huntington to compete with all other cities across the world. In 10 years, this will be noted as the one announcement that set the economic transformation forward for Huntington and its citizens,” Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said regarding one of the included projects.
The senators say the following projects will be receiving awards:
- $2,353,788 – Thundercloud for a 25-mile fiber loop that will connect Barboursville to downtown Huntington
- $1,499,894 – Region 4 Planning and Development Council for a recovery-to-work program focused on social entrepreneurship in the food sector
- $1,360,852 – Region II Planning and Development Council for a tri-state aviation maintenance technician program, working with Marshall and Mountwest Community College
- $480,000 – Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center to implement a peer navigator/recovery coach model for working with persons with substance use disorder
- $50,000 – Appalachian Forest Heritage Area to develop a business plan for a volunteer trail maintenance center and program
- $50,000 – Wheeling National Heritage Area to conduct a feasibility study to transform four sites along Main Street into a “Heritage Gateway” for the downtown core
- $50,000 – New River Gorge Regional Development Authority for a strategic plan to support the aerospace industry