LONDON, Ky. — Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation was awarded $1.5 million by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for a project to increase access to capital and technical assistance for businesses as well as boost employee skills and training.
The Kentucky Highlands Empowerment Zone/Promise Zone (EZ/PZ) Project will target the Kentucky Promise Zone counties (Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay, Knox, and part of Whitley), the former Empowerment Zone Counties (Jackson, Wayne, and Clinton) and McCreary County. The goal is to create 400 to 425 new jobs as well as increase education and training for 400 workers.
It will include four components:
- A $650,000 revolving loan fund to offer stabilization and expansion capital to businesses and organizations that serve the public good, such as health-care entities;
- Business management and technical assistance from KHIC staff;
- $150,000 to launch the Career Ladder Incentive Program, which will enhance employees’ skills by reimbursing organizations 50 percent of tuition and fees for each employee completing a certificate or training; and
- Work with EKCEP to expand Teleworks USA, a remote-work training and job placement program, to Clinton, Wayne, and Whitley counties.
“The project will meet several crucial needs in our region,” said Jerry Rickett, president, and CEO of Kentucky Highlands. “It will address a shortage in capital investment available to local businesses, provide much-needed specialized technical assistance, boost labor participation rates by expanding remote work opportunities and increase employees’ upward mobility through career-advancing continuing education. We’ll leverage several assets — more than 50 years of small business investing and technical assistance experience, the Empowerment Zone 5-year employee tax credit extension, and the remaining 33 months of the Promise Zone designation benefits.”
Project partners include Woodforest Bank; EKCEP; Bell, Wayne, and Whitley County Fiscal Courts to implement Teleworks USA; and the elder and primary care organizations American Health Management, Grace Health, Dayspring Health, and Pineville Community Health Center, Inc.
KHIC expects the ARC loan fund also will attract more than $4 million of other private investment. The three-year project also will be matched with cash and in-kind services.
This award is part of a $46.4 million package supporting 57 projects across 184 coal-impacted counties through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. POWER targets federal resources to communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries.
Since POWER launched in 2015, ARC has invested more than $287.8 million in 362 projects across 353 coal-impacted counties. The nearly $46.4 million awarded today is projected to create/retain over 9,187 jobs, attract nearly $519.5 million in leveraged private investments, and be matched by $59.2 million in additional public and private funds across the Region.
Click here for more Kentucky business news.