Federal Initiative Meant to Help Coal Dependant Communities

May 11, 2015

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.

The money is available through the U.S. Department of Labor, in partnership with the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

“Recent changes in the energy economy have had a profound impact on Appalachian families and communities that have been sustained by the coal industry for generations,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announcing the grant at the Shaping Our Appalachian Region Strategy Summit 2015, in Pikeville, Ky. “We have a moral imperative to work together to ensure we all succeed. That’s what the POWER initiative is all about – developing truly cohesive relationships at the federal, state and local level to create real economic opportunities for families throughout the region.”

Opened today,  the Federal Funding Opportunity outlines the POWER Initiative implementation grant priorities, evaluation factors, and application guidance for the up to

  • $20 million from Department of Labor
  • up to $12.5 million in funding from the Department of Commerce
  • up to $2.5 million from the Small Business Administration
  • up to $500,000 from Appalachian Regional Commission

According to a release from the Department of Labor, grants will take a comprehensive approach towards economic diversification and worker advancement in implementing their economic development strategic plans. The release said, “Experience shows that projects which integrate both economic development and workforce development solutions with broad community partnerships are more successful than when independent solutions are pursued.”

The grants are competitive and will go to partnerships of regionally-driven economic development and workforce development organizations in impacted coal communities. The release went onto say that the "grants will help recipients build economic resilience, industry diversification, and promote new job creation opportunities."

Applicants need to apply separately for each funding source in which they are interested. Applications for DOC, SBA and ARC funding must be received by July 10, 2015. DOL funding applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.