Area Technology Center for Estill County public schools expected to generate $19.4M private investment

$4 million U.S. Department of Commerce grant matched with $4.7M state investment
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced Wednesday that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $4 million grant to the Estill County Board of Education in Irvine, Ky., to help build an Area Technology Center (ATC) educational building.

The project, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $4.7 million in state investment, and is expected to help create more than 500 jobs, retain 450 jobs, and generate $19.4 million in private investment.

“The Trump Administration is working diligently to provide American workers with tailored and relevant training,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The new Area Technology Center, which will be located in an Opportunity Zone, will provide the training needed to develop highly skilled workers that can support the region’s industries.”

“We are grateful to Secretary Ross and the U.S. Department of Commerce for this significant Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to help complete Estill County’s new Area Technology Center,” said Gov. Matt Bevin. “This major investment, located within a federally designated Opportunity Zone, will result in vital, state-of-the-art job training that prepares our workforce for the rapidly growing number of exciting career opportunities available here in Kentucky — America’s engineering and manufacturing center of excellence.”

“The Trump Administration and I continue to work together to invest in the future of Kentucky’s top-notch workforce,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Today’s announcement is great news for my constituents in rural Estill County. The new Area Technical Center will employ Kentuckians and provide vital career and technical education to my constituents in the region. When I contacted the U.S. Department of Commerce in support of the Board of Education’s federal grant application, I emphasized the many benefits the adult education program will have not only on program participants, but also on the economic development of the larger region. As Senate Majority Leader, I’ll continue drawing attention to the priorities of Kentucky communities like Irvine and delivering results.”

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. McConnell advocated for this project under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) program, and prioritizes the federal ACC program in the annual appropriations process.

“The Estill County Board of Education and local officials have worked diligently to make the Area Technology Center a reality, bringing to the Sixth District a facility that will provide enhanced training opportunities in a high-need area while helping displaced coal workers and others learn new, highly sought-after skills,” said Congressman Andy Barr. “I applaud the Trump Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce for their tireless work in funding programs like this one to help match skilled workers with the needs of our region’s industries.”

This investment will help build a new 40,000 s.f. ATC educational building for Estill County Schools. Collaborating with a regional technical college, the ATC will offer support and education to highly skilled workers that includes advanced manufacturing, health sciences, information technology, diesel technology, and other technical education for adults.

This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) program, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal through activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.

The funding announced goes to a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, which provides special incentives for further private sector participation and development. Created by President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zone designations spur economic development by giving tax incentives to investors in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority. By implementing this new Investment Priority, the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund will be increased to spur greater public investment in these areas. To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Treasury Department resources page here. To learn more about the Commerce Department’s work in Opportunity Zones, read our blog post.

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