Coal Industry-Impacted WV Communities Receive $43 Million in POWER Grants
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced this week $43.3 million in grants to support economic diversification in the region’s coal-impacted communities. Seven of those projects are in West Virginia.
The funds will go to projects in Princeton, Elkins, Summersville, Wheeling, Beckley and Huntington.
The largest award in West Virginia went to a project called Thundercloud Gigabit City Deployment that will support approximately 25 miles of fiber construction and create a fiber loop that will connect Barboursville to downtown Huntington.
Huntington city leaders, who ultimately were rewarded $2.35 million for the project on Wednesday, raised concerns about the application process in September, after learning national telecommunications provider Comcast objected to the project and the city's request for funding.
The project, which received $2.3 million, is part of a larger broadband expansion in the region.
In Beckley, $50,000 will go to support a strategic plan to improve aviation workplace training and education in the region.
The awards are part of the POWER initiative, a federal grant program aimed at supporting communities affected by job losses in the coal industry.
ARC has invested over $238 million across Appalachia since 2015. So far, most of the POWER investments have been in eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, and southwestern Pennsylvania.
ARC listed a short summary about each grant and the projects on the POWER Project Summaries by State document.