A crowd of about 200 people gathered in Sutton to learn about the process for applying for funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Economic Development Administration’s joint POWER Initiative.
The initiative allocates technical assistance and implementation grants to organizations and communities who are working to alleviate the effects of coal’s decline. While implementation grants make up the majority of the $46.5 million of funding, $1.2 million have been allocated toward technical assistance grants. These smaller grants can be used to help groups commission studies or pay for a professional grant-writer to assist with proposals.
Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission Earl Gohl says that funds from the POWER initiative are meant to be a boost to local community groups and projects. “The concept here is to leverage new opportunities and to make strategic investments in coal-impacted communities to help them support and develop small business and create the infrastructure and ecosystem that will let them go forward.”
Projects are required to provide detailed arguments for why and how their work touches coal-impacted communities, as well as how they will generate new jobs and revenue for the region.
Alissa Novoselick, the Executive Director of the Tamarack Foundation, was amongst the crowd of eager change-makers. She hopes to use funding from the POWER initiative to expand distribution of works created by West Virginia artists.
“I think artists are vital to the revitalization of coal impacted communities not only on the economic development side as we work to build the creative economy in West Virginia but also for creators in place-making and identifying community assets,” said Novoselick.
Applications for POWER grants will be accepted via the Appalachian Regional Commission’s website on a rolling basis until the funding has been exhausted.