FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Kentucky is receiving more than $5.5 million in grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission, or ARC, for six projects supporting economic diversification in coal-impacted communities.
A total of $43 million for 51 projects In the Commission’s 13 state service area, is being funded through the POWER Initiative, which stands for Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization, a congressionally-funded initiative targeting federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations and coal-related supply chain indusatries.
The six Kentucky projects and the amount of funding are as follows:
--$1,500,000 to Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation in Whitesburg, KY for the Transitional Housing Facility project. It includes the creation of 22 units of transitional housing for men who are in recovery from substance use disorders. Letcher County and its neighboring communities have been hard hit by both the downturn in the coal economy and the substance abuse crisis.
--$1,500,000 to Kentucky Dataseam Initiative, Inc., in Louisville, KY for the Dataseam K–12 IT Apprentice Expansion project. Dataseam will work with school districts in 20 Eastern Kentucky counties to deliver an information technology student apprenticeship program that includes paid IT jobs for students, hands-on coursework, on-the-job training, and vital technology infrastructure to communities. Dataseam will also help Morehead State University and the University of Louisville identify and recruit students into STEM education programs and STEM careers.
--$1,500,000 to Foothills Academy, Inc., in Albany, KY for the Foothills Independent Transitional Living Center. The project will construct a Center to deliver transitional housing, training, case management, drug abuse prevention, and reemployment services to youth who age out of the child welfare system and have limited support networks to enter or reenter the workforce. It will be located near Somerset Community and Technical College with access to vocational and professional training, career counseling, and student supports.
--$990,510 to the Saint Joseph London Foundation, Inc., in London, KY to create a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Saint Joseph London Hospital. The new facility will have the capacity to serve 100 newborn babies each year and will enable the creation of 19 full-time jobs. London and surrounding areas have seen troubling increases in the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, due to drug use among mothers and the lack of effective substance abuse prevention and treatment services.
--$50,000 to Gateway Area Development District in Morehead, KY for the Gateway Regional Workforce Development Plan. It will identify the area’s primary economic sectors and potential emerging sectors that can provide sustainable economic growth and development. The plan will be used as a guide by key partners and community stakeholders to implement training and transition programs that will fill skillset gaps, aid the workforce in transitioning to other existing and emerging economic sectors, and expand the local workforce in a nine-county area.
$6,320 to the Eastern Kentucky Heritage Foundation, Inc., in Whitesburg, KY for the Tiny House Manufacturing project. They will conduct a feasibility study to determine the viability of providing vocational training to persons in addiction recovery care and hiring them to build tiny houses. A strategic plan will be based on the study findings. By using the construction and distribution of tiny houses to support the drug and substance abuse post-treatment to employment continuum, tiny house manufacturing could serve as a model for second chance employment in the Region.
“Communities impacted by the downturn of coal have been doubly impacted by the effects of COVID-19-related measures on their local economies. It is more important than ever to support resilient Appalachian communities in their economic recovery, and this round of POWER grantees are developing innovative and transformative approaches to benefit the Region," said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas.
He added, "All of the projects will support tools and training to get the Appalachian economy back to work."