County one of 184 to receive project funding

Published 11:59 am Thursday, September 16, 2021

MATEWAN, WV, September 16, 2021—Today, during a virtual event co-hosted by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, ARC announced nearly $46.4 million for 57 projects across 184 counties to support economic diversification in the Region’s coal-impacted communities. Out of the 184 counties, Harlan County is set to receive $1,937,475 (see bottom).

The funding for the projects was made possible through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, which targets federal resources to communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries.

“The downturn of the coal industry has impacted economies across Appalachia. That’s why ARC’s POWER initiative helps to leverage regional partnerships and collaborations to support efforts to create a more vibrant economic future for coal-impacted communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Many of the projects we announced today will invest in educating and training the Appalachian workforce, nurturing entrepreneurship, and supporting infrastructure—including broadband access. These investments are critical in leveling the economic playing field so Appalachian communities can thrive.”

“As our economy recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, it is critical to invest in Appalachia,” said Governor Ralph Northam, ARC States’ Co-Chair. “ARC’s POWER initiative will continue to build on the region’s strengths and address its challenges, driving growth and opportunity throughout Appalachia. These projects demonstrate how regional collaboration can spur innovation, encourage entrepreneurs, diversify our economy, and support the critical infrastructure needed to bridge the digital divide, all of which will allow Appalachian communities to recover and flourish.”

IWG Executive Director, Brian Anderson, Ph.D., who hosted a panel showcasing best practices from previous POWER grant recipients shortly before the announcement said, “The Appalachian Regional Commission is doing vital and timely work on the ground supporting Appalachia’s energy communities. We are pleased to be their partner, and today’s forum was designed to help advance their mission by sharing information on funding available to coal communities and sharing ideas and best practices on strengthening coal-impacted communities and their economies.”

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.

ARC plans to announce additional POWER projects later this year.

Project Title: Harlan County Connected

Grantee: Harlan County Fiscal Court

Award Amount: $1,937,475

Announcement Date: Sept 2021

Project Summary: ARC grant of $1,937,475 to Harlan County Fiscal Court in Harlan, Kentucky, for the Harlan County Connected project. The project will design and build 40 miles of fiber network to offer gigabit broadband to the most underserved parts of the county. Since 2012,this county has experienced an 84% decrease in mine employment, but leadership is confident in the ability of this broadband project to help it compete in the modern global economy. This last-mile fiber network is expected to leverage the ARC-funded Kentucky Wired middle-mile fiber network to provide broadband to 282 businesses and 7,380 households.