PIKEVILLE, Ky. — U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers and Gov. Matt Bevin announced Friday 20 grants totaling $34.4 million to spur economic development and job creation in Eastern Kentucky.
Projects impacting 14 counties were selected for grants through the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, as part of the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Program to revitalize the coalfields in Kentucky’s Appalachian region through economic development.
All projects were unveiled at the 2019 Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Summit in Pikeville by Bevin and Rogers, who has championed $425 million in federal funding for the AML Pilot Program since 2016, alongside U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). $105 million of the program funds have been awarded to Kentucky.
“These grant announcements target the regional scope of SOAR and the importance of collaborating across county boundaries by highlighting the success we can create when we combine federal, state and local resources,” said Rogers. “We are addressing a broad spectrum of issues through these grants, from advancing healthcare, to enhancing tourism, to improving infrastructure, to creating new jobs. If we are going to shape our future, we must continue to take a holistic approach.”
“I am excited to join Congressman Rogers today in announcing more than $34 million in AML Pilot Program investments for 20 economic development projects across Eastern Kentucky,” said Bevin. “These funds will assist the region’s communities in providing vital healthcare access, workforce training, infrastructure development, tourism enhancement, and economic opportunity. We are grateful to Congressman Rogers for being a tireless champion and strong partner as we transform Eastern Kentucky’s economy to build a brighter future for our citizens.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he has made funding this program a top priority each year to deliver much-needed federal resources to revitalize this region’s economy and to improve the lives of families in Eastern Kentucky’s coal communities.
“Eastern Kentucky communities hold great potential, and the investments announced today will support families, workers and community institutions throughout this wonderful region,” McConnell said.
Healthcare and job training projects include:
- Pikeville Medical Center in Pike County was selected to receive $4.78 million for the construction and resources necessary to develop a children’s hospital and pediatric clinic. In addition to creating jobs in the health care industry, the facility will provide regional health care services for over 100,000 children.
- Leslie County was selected to receive $2.056 million to develop the Leslie County Job Training, Connectivity and TeleWorks program, which will expand internet connectivity and provide training for high demand jobs. The project will connect downtown Hyden to wi-fi service and will expand access to community center in Stinnett and Cutshin to support new job opportunities through TeleWorks.
- The East Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute, (eKAMI), in Morgan County was selected to receive $3.4 million to expand its outreach from Johnson County to the East Kentucky Correctional Complex at West Liberty. The grant will be used to construct a 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art training facility at the correctional complex to retrain prisoners and help them develop skills for a successful reintegration into society.
- The USA Drone Port in Perry and Knott counties was selected to receive $1.5 million to construct a cutting-edge, indoor drone flight-testing facility. The 20,000-square-foot facility will enable all-weather drone research and development.
- Hazard Community and Technical College in Perry County was selected to receive $2.5 million to retrofit the existing industrial education building into the Advanced Manufacturing and Construction Center of Excellence in order to provide high-tech, hands-on training in the manufacturing sector. The center will train students in welding, construction, computer aided drafting and design, electricity, machining, tool and die, and HVAC.
Infrastructure improvement projects include:
- The Martin County Water District will receive $2 million for a new booster pump station, a 250,000-gallon storage tank, and other upgrades to shore up water system failures.
- The Big Sandy Regional Industrial Authority in Martin County was selected to receive $2 million to construct a build-ready site for a 200,000-square-foot building and to renovate other locations in the Eastern Kentucky Business Park. The project will create one of the most highly marketable industrial park in the coal fields.
- The International Landing Zone in Martin County was selected to receive $1.37 million to create a multi-user manufacturing facility in an existing 33,000-square-foot facility in the Eastern Kentucky Business Park. The project will provide small-scale, graduated manufacturing space for companies seeking to begin operations until they are ready to expand into their own locations.
- Southern Water and Sewer District in Floyd County was selected to receive $1.5 million to replace and update water meters serving its residential and commercial customers.
- Troublesome Creek Environmental Authority in Knott County was selected to receive $743,000 to expand a sewer collection system to the USA Drone Port and to add water service to the site. The project will lay the groundwork for future water service expansion.
- The city of Paintsville and Johnson County were selected to receive $4 million for construction of a sewer expansion that will free up capacity at the Paintsville Waste Water Treatment Plant by diverting waste to the Honey Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant. The expansion will alleviate the capacity issues at the Paintsville plant and foster economic growth in the city, as well as along the sewer route.
Tourism-related projects include:
- The city of Beattyville in Lee County was selected to receive $1.25 million to develop a trail head along the Beattyville Coal Seam that will serve as a starting point for hiking and mountain biking. The Beattyville Connect project will develop a town square along with walking paths and historical markers.
- The city of Prestonsburg in Floyd County was selected to receive $185,000 for planning and feasibility studies to develop the Levisa and Russell Forks as a Blue Water Trail.
- EKY Heritage Foundation, Inc. has been selected to receive $3.465 million to develop Thunder Mountain, a world-class, sport-shooting and archery resort park in Letcher County.
- Impact Outdoor Adventures in Clay County was selected to receive $205,000 that will build a roadway to provide improved access to the Impact Outdoor campground, which hosts year-round events for local youth.
- The Kentucky Coal Heritage Trail in Floyd County was selected to receive $225,000 to develop a comprehensive inventory of coal-related buildings, and vacant historic sites in the 20 Appalachian Regional Commission’s coal counties of Southeast Kentucky. The inventory will help launch reclamation efforts and tourism activities related to the region’s rich coal mining heritage.
- The Harlan County River Ramp project was selected to receive $376,000 that will construct nine ramps for canoe and kayak access into the Cumberland River and two dock ramps at Cranks and Highsplint lakes for recreation and fishing.
- Mine Made Adventures in Knott County was selected to receive $1.5 million to expand and develop the park. The project will include campground sites, cabins, and a multi-use building. The newly developed park will serve as a trailhead for hundreds of miles of interconnected, multi-purpose trails.
- The South Fork Elk View Campground in Breathitt County was selected to receive $1.345 million to continue development of the campground and recreation opportunities.
Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely said $25 million was available for 2019 grants and that over $135 million in projects was submitted to the Cabinet. “While we would have liked to fund them all, we feel great about the projects that will go forward and contribute to the economic rebuilding of Eastern Kentucky,” Snavely said.
The $2 million Martin County Water District and the Clay County Impact Outdoor Adventures projects have been approved by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation Enforcement (OSMRE). The others are pending final approval.
The AML Pilot Program, funded through OSMRE, is a program administered by the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands with assistance from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Department for Local Government, and the SOAR Initiative in Eastern Kentucky.