Grants support mission of SOAR to create trained workforce, jobs
SOMERSET, Ky. (Oct. 15, 2015) – Gov. Steve Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) today joined federal leaders to announce $6 million in federal grants to improve economic development goals and job creation in eastern Kentucky.
Kentucky received $3.8 million in federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant funds as part of the Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. Other funding sources include a $2 million Employment and Training federal grant and $225,000 in ARC grants.
The projects and funding sources include:
- The Kentucky Cabinet for Finance and Administration received a $1 million EDA grant for the “Unleashing the POWER of the I-Way” to help businesses and communities in eastern Kentucky “unleash” the power of e-commerce. The project is also supported by a $2 million Employment and Training federal grant to the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and a $75,000 ARC grant. The grants support the mission adopted by the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative through its 2-year planning efforts. Gov. Beshear and Congressman Rogers created SOARin 2013.
- $468,635 EDA grant to the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development for food chain supply development in eastern Kentucky. ARC is awarding $75,000 to this project.
- $200,000 EDA grant to Appalshop Inc. in Kentucky for Mines to Minds: The Southeast Kentucky High Tech Workforce Certificate Project. ARC is awarding $75,000 to this project.
- $100,000 EDA grant to Perry County Fiscal Court in Kentucky for the Southeastern Kentucky Economic HUB Opportunities Diversification Implementation Project.
- $1.2 million EDA grant to WestCare Substance Abuse Treatment in Kentucky for the WestCare Kentucky Economic Development Project at the Judy Patton Center.
- $300,000 EDA grant to the International Economic Development Council Inc. in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee for the IEDC Rural Development Institute for Coal Communities.
As part of the POWER Initiative, EDA also awarded funds to the eastern Kentucky region for the creation of regional economic development plans designed to stimulate and guide the economic development efforts. These projects include:
- $80,000 to the Kentucky River Area Development District to fund an economic leakage analysis that will provide the necessary first look by the Area Development Districts into what businesses exist in the 26 county regions.
- $100,000 to Berea College to support the Promise Zone efforts to develop a collective impact strategy to fully engage Opportunity Youth in the work of economic transition.
- $274,500 to the Big Sandy Area Development District in Kentucky to conduct RLF marketing, cluster/sector strategies development, resource/network development, entrepreneurial service provider networking/coordination.
Jay Williams, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, today presented the EDA funding at the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Annual Conference in Somerset to Gov. Steve Beshear and Congressman Rogers, who are co-chairs of SOAR.
ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl presented the two leaders with the ARC funded grants.
The broadband project, KentuckyWired or the I-WAY, will begin in eastern Kentucky and will spread throughout the state over the next three years. Broadband will break down geographic and financial barriers to education and economic development by providing access to affordable, high-quality Internet service to connect Kentuckians to the world.
“These federal dollars will help strengthen our workforce and continue our commitment to eastern Kentucky to bring quality jobs through SOAR and ARC,” Gov. Beshear said. “Bringing broadband to our communities is not enough. Our team will help entrepreneurs and businesses to better understand how to take advantage of new market opportunities, encourage citizens to develop essential digital skills and consult with communities on what their role is in getting fiber to homes and businesses.”
“Thanks to the collaboration of our federal partners, our local communities are one step closer to bringing dream projects to fruition,” said Congressman Rogers. “We know there isn’t a silver bullet to overcome the many challenges we face in the Appalachian region, but with continued collaboration of resources and ingenuity, the future is much brighter for the people who want to live and work here at home.”
“These federal investments provide critical leverage for local leaders to make things happen in Appalachian communities.” said Gohl. “Initiatives like these build the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and contribute to making Appalachia the next great investment opportunity in America.”
“The POWER initiative is a demonstration of this Administration’s continued commitment to breaking down silos within the federal government, enabling federal dollars to have a greater impact,” said Assistant Secretary Williams. “EDA is proud to lead this initiative with our federal partners and look forward to seeing the results of these investments in coal communities across the nation.”
E-commerce training for businesses and entrepreneurs; community fiber readiness consulting and support services; and broadband promotion, adoption, and awareness are all strategic goals and action items of SOAR.
The project will create “E-teams” to assist industry clusters as identified in the SOAR regional plan with a broadband implementation strategy tied to improved economic development goals and job creation.
E-Commerce training and community fiber readiness consulting and support services will be offered in targeted sectors for established companies and entrepreneurial endeavors and to help the community prepare for the new IT infrastructure.
E-Teams will work with industry partnerships, individual companies and entrepreneurs to improve their marketing, product development, production efficiency and process improvement, and bring new jobs to the region.
The project will invest in local Community Internet Access Centers. At these centers, Kentuckians will be able to access computers, the Internet and other digital technologies that enable them to gather information, create, learn, and communicate with others while they develop essential digital skills.
The project partners will work with KCTCS, other trainers and outside consultants to help companies, entrepreneurs and communities in eastern Kentucky engage quickly, effectively and efficiently with expanded broadband services and capabilities to stimulate new business development, job creation, international competitiveness and regional entrepreneurism.