Home » Kentucky College of Optometry to receive $7.4M in Economic and Workforce Development Resources

Kentucky College of Optometry to receive $7.4M in Economic and Workforce Development Resources

Other Kentucky organizations part of $38.8 million in funding

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 24, 2016) — The Obama administration today announced $38.8 million for 29 economic and workforce development projects—including several in Kentucky—to help revitalize regions hurt by the loss of coal jobs.

imgresAwards are administered by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). With these investments, it’s estimated that 3,418 jobs will be created or retained, and an additional $66,970,000 will be leveraged through investments from other public and private partners.

By far the biggest project is $7,474,100 to the University of Pikeville to purchase equipment, instructional supplies and other materials to help launch the Kentucky College of Optometry.

Just the second optometry college in the Appalachian Region, it will primarily serve Eastern Kentucky, Southern West Virginia, and Southwestern Virginia.

Within the first three years of the award, the college is expected to graduate 60 optometrists, provide care to 12,000 patients and bring $26 million in direct economic impact to the regional economy.

Other Kentucky projects:

  • $2,750,000 ARC grant to the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) in Hazard for the TechHire Eastern Kentucky (TEKY) Initiative: Developing a Technology-Driven Workforce project. The project will serve young adults aged 17-29 who are out of school, and older adults who are unemployed, laid-off, or underemployed by offering several avenues to industry-led accelerated technology training, paid work-based internships, and employment opportunities in IT careers. This comprehensive workforce development initiative will train 200 new workers, create 160 jobs, and serve to bolster existing and emerging sectors that rely on a skilled information technology workforce in 23 Eastern Kentucky counties. The initiative will provide the trained workers necessary for a private technology company to expand its operations into Eastern Kentucky.
  • $2,022,133 ARC grant to the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) in Berea for theEconomic Transition for Eastern Kentucky (ETEK) Initiative. The ARC award will expand fast-track retraining and entrepreneurial technical assistance services targeted to dislocated coal workers; establish an intern program aimed at placing former coal workers in the energy efficiency sector; and increase access to capital through a $1,000,000 venture capital loan fund. The project will create 200 new jobs and 100 new enterprises, serve 500 existing businesses, and bring $12,000,000 in leveraged financing to a 54-county region in Eastern Kentucky.
  • $1,464,251 ARC grant to the University of Kentucky Research Foundation in Lexington for the Downtown Revitalization in the Promise Zone project. This project — partnering with the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky, the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, the Kentucky Promise Zone, Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), and the Kentucky Mainstreet Program – will help revitalize the downtowns of 8 distressed towns in the Southeastern Kentucky Promise Zone.  The project will provide each community with tailored economic studies that identify economic opportunities, support strategic planning sessions to capitalize on those opportunities, provide financial support for key steps to implement those strategies, and build local leadership and business capacity. The project will create 24 new downtown businesses, 72 new jobs, and leverage $800,000 in private investments.
  • $60,000 for a partnership with the National Association of Counties Research Foundation to provide additional technical assistance to 11 teams from Appalachian coal communities that participated in the EDA-funded Innovation Challenge for Coal-Reliant Communities Program. This support includes grant writing, feasibility studies, strategic plan development or updates and capacity building to facilitate strategic and sustainable investments. Community teams are located in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.