Coalfields To Receive $7 Million For Job, Infrastructure Growth
Federal grants of about $10 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce were awarded to four West Virginia projects Monday to help with infrastructure maintenance and economic development in the state.
Two of those projects are in the southern coalfields where the need for a more diversified workforce remains crucial.
“These projects will support business growth in West Virginia, diversify the state’s economy, and create new jobs for West Virginia residents,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
The largest award, $5.2 million, will go to the Huntington Stormwater Utility to repair the Huntington Floodwall, which officials said was structurally damaged in the 2015 and 2018 floods.
The goal for this project is to reroute sewer and storm drainage systems to protect downtown businesses, according to a press release. The project is expected to create and retain 750 jobs, the commerce department said.
The Coalfield Development Corp., a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing coalfield economies, will receive a federal grant for nearly $1.7 million. Three buildings in Matewan will be renovated to create a job-creation and training facility.
In 2019, West Virginia had the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the country. The new Matewan facility will specifically be geared toward unemployed coal miners – ideally creating 90 new jobs.
The Putnam County Public Service District and the Benedum Airport Authority also received federal grants for increasing water capacity to serve industrial needs and to renovate airport facilities, respectively.