Economic Development

Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

We reported earlier this year on an economic development project to grow lavender on former strip mines in West Virginia. After the story was released, we heard from a number of students involved in the program, saying they were disappointed and felt misled by the outcomes of the project, called Green Mining. West Virginia Public Broadcasting revisited the story to find out what happened, and if the project is still going as expected. 


Roxy Todd/ WVPB

Several federally funded job-training programs have emerged in recent years designed to help revitalize coal country. In 2017 alone, the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership focused on economic development since the mid-1960s, approved more than $150 million in projects for the region. But how successful are these programs, and what are the challenges?

Janet Kunicki/ WVPB

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation is taking applications for grant funding available for economic development projects.

The goal of the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Economic Development Pilot Program is to provide financial assistance to communities hoping to redevelop lands near abandoned mine sites across the state. 


A surface mine in Letcher County, Kentucky. The reclaimed part of the mine is seeded with grass.
Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation is accepting applications for a portion of $25 million in grant funding for economic development projects.

Applicants have until June 15 to apply.

Unemployment Line
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

Federal funds have been awarded to four West Virginia organizations focused on economic development.

Those four agencies include the Region 7 Planning and Development Council, the Planning and Development Councils in both the Eastern Panhandle and the Mid-Ohio Valley, and the Marshall University Research Corporation. The groups will split an award of $310,000.

Adobe Stock

The Appalachian Regional Commission has just awarded more than 1.3 million dollars to support economic development projects throughout West Virginia.

Melissa Thomas Van Gundy at the  Fernow Experimental Forest in Tucker County, W.Va.
Jean Sendegar / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Editor's Note: This story is part of an occasional series from independent producer Jean Snedegar about the timber and forest products industry here in the Mountain State – from seedlings to final products.

One of the oldest and largest industries in West Virginia is the timber and wood products industry.  West Virginia is rich in this renewable natural resource, but the housing downturn that began 10 years ago hit the industry hard. 

MOUNTAIN STAGE/PAT SERGENT

Music has traditionally played a big role in the culture of Appalachia, and it seems that other countries are taking notice of the region’s rich musical tradition. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear from the tourism music trail in West Virginia called The Mountain Music Trail (MMT) Since we last heard from them, they have grown. The MMT recently was a finalist in the British Guild of Travel Writers 2016 tourism initiative awards in the “wider word” category, and was recognized as one of the top three destinations in the world. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

About a year after Gov. Tomblin announced he would spend his last year in office focused on an economic development project on a former mountaintop removal mine site, the project itself has its first investor and a new name.

Tomblin announced in a press conference at the Capitol Thursday that the former Hobet mine site would become the Rock Creek Development Park.

ATV
aiisha / Dollar Photo Club

Having recently lost access to about 55 miles of some of the toughest off-roading trails in the state, 4x4 drivers have found new paths to challenge themselves on in a different part of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System.

AllVoices.com

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.

Best Furniture
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Asbestos abatement and environmental clean up began Tuesday at the vacant Best Furniture Store in downtown Welch in McDowell County Tuesday, some 19 months after a project to demolish and build new housing on the site was announced.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

$65.8 million is now available to help people who are struggling in coal fields throughout the U.S.  $35 million of that will be distributed throughout Appalachia, where layoffs in the coal industry have been especially hard on communities.


Mountain Stage/Pat Sergent

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we'll hear why Davis and Elkins College offers a unique type of scholarship for students who play traditional folk music. And we’ll hear about a new tourism music trail in West Virginia called The Mountain Music Trail.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear stories of Christmas past, Christmas present and even hope for Christmases in the future.

flybeckley.com

A West Virginia airport is beginning to offer weekly flights to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

About 150 people from six states gathered in Morgantown Tuesday, June 16, to tell the Appalachian Regional Commission what they think the organization can do to help the region take advantage of emerging opportunities. The ARC will use the information collected at the Morgantown listening session and four others to develop a plan to guide its economic and community development efforts during the next five years.

 

The Appalachian Regional Commission was created as an economic development agency in 1964 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. The ARC partners with federal, state and local government to advocate for sustainable community and economic development across the region.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

Several federal government agencies are teaming up to send $35.5 million to help communities and workers adapt to the decline in coal jobs.  The grant is part of the  Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization  initiative, known as POWER, led by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Agency.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, along with other federal representatives, introduced legislation that would reauthorize the Appalachian Regional Commission. The announcement comes on the heels of a report evaluating the progress of the Commission after 50 years.

Catherine Moore

Early one morning this past January, two Clay County school busses pulled up at the state capitol complex in Charleston. Inside were members of the group “What’s Next, Clay County?”, one of twenty-five communities across the state that is organizing to strengthen their local economy as a part of the “What’s Next, WV?” initiative. 

Over seventy people attended their first community meeting last fall—not a small feat in a community of their size. They chose five areas to focus their work: youth and education; infrastructure; small business; drugs; and cleaning up trash and dilapidated properties.

  When you hear the word “ginseng” you might think about a wild plant that grows in the hills of Appalachia … and you would be right, that’s the good stuff. But there’s another way ginseng grows that’s a little less wild. Basically, we’re talking about ginseng farming in the forest, which can yield roots as valuable as the wild stuff. So is it a viable business for West Virginians? Well, there are some rules and regulations that might be hindering growth, but experts say there are ways to promote the industry.


 The War on Coal, pressures from natural gas development, crumbling infrastructure, whatever you want to blame it on - jobs are becoming more and more scarce these days in communities dependent on coal. As a result, some folks are reaching back to their roots, literally and figuratively, to make ends meet - just as they have for generations. And there’s some big money there. Especially harvesting ginseng. But can plants like ginseng play a significant role in our economy today? Enquiring minds would like to know…


President Barack Obama's new budget proposal includes more than $3 billion worth of tax credits and other spending to help the Appalachian region recover from the declining coal industry. People across the coalfields are responding with mixed feelings.

In southern West Virginia, many people see initiatives from the Obama administration and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions as an attack on their livelihoods.

So it’s not surprising to hear skepticism and doubt from the coalfields when the president announces intentions to throw a financial lifeline to Appalachia.


In West Virginia, Executive Director of Main Street Fairmont, Kate Greene, sees a city on the move.

The Clinch River region of Southwestern Virginia is looking for new economic opportunity.

And Tennessee State Park Ranger, Bobby Fulcher, has spent the last three decades traveling the Tennessee hills to record folk-music. These stories and more on this week's Inside Appalachia.

Chuck Kleine

A group called the Morgantown Municipal Green Team will host a Community Dialogue on Urban Agriculture next week.


BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (AP) - A prominent cabinet manufacturer plans to add 80 full-time jobs and invest $30 million at its West Virginia facility.
 
     American Woodmark Corp. announced this week it will expand its South Branch manufacturing center in Moorefield in Hardy County.
 
     The publicly traded company plans to add 100,000 square feet and boost the site's employment to 655 workers.
 
     American Woodmark expects expansion to be complete by fall 2015.
 

FloNight

A West Virginia town is being recognized for its efforts and accomplishments to improve health. Williamson has implemented several programs over the past several years.

What's Next, West Virginia?

May 21, 2014

What's next for West Virginia? That's a question that will be posed to community members at meetings across the state in the coming months.  The West Virginia Center for Civic Life promotes local dialogue to challenge us to talk about problems and find solutions to better the quality of life here.  The center is holding its 18th annual Civic Life Institute at the University of Charleston on June 4 and 5.  The institute will train citizens from across the state to hold and facilitate local meetings to find out what's next for West Virginia.   Center director Betty Knighton and Catherine Moore, an Appalachian Transition Fellow assigned to the project, stopped by our studios to talk with West Virginia Morning host Beth Vorhees about the initiative.


House Approves W. Va. Launch Pad Act

Feb 14, 2014
Daniel Walker

House Bill 4343 provides economic benefits for businesses working with technologies not currently in West Virginia if they locate or expand in launch pads areas in the state.

These benefits would begin on January 1, 2015 and last until December 30, 2030 and include state and local tax relief and assistance in moving a business here.

Eastern Kentuckians talk about their future.

While the struggle to find jobs for laid-off coal miners continues.

A Pennsylvanian reminisces about deer hunting.

An ultra-marathoner runs his way to good health.

Eastern Kentuckians are ready to talk about the future.  This was evident this past Monday when more than 1,500 people showed up in Pikeville for the first SOAR, the shaping our Appalachian region summit.  WMMT’s Sylvia Ryerson was at the event, and has this story.

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