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Rural Blog: ARC awards $26 million to job training projects in coal-impacted communities in five states

The Appalachian Region Commission has announced 28 awards of nearly $26 million in coal-impacted communities in five states with two of the largest grants going to Prestonsburg and Hazard.

ARC said funds will “train more than 7,300 workers and students impacted by the changing coal economy in certificate, credentialing, and other workforce development programs. They will also create or retain more than 2,500 jobs, leverage an additional $31 million from public and private investors and create a more vibrant economic future for Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities.”

The biggest award, $3.5 million, goes to Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonsburg, Ky. Funds will “will enable three Eastern-Kentucky education institutions—Big Sandy, Hazard Community and Technical College and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College—to launch a comprehensive, employer-driven workforce development program focused on building the digital economy and strengthening digital innovation and entrepreneurship across a 16-county region in Eastern Kentucky.”

ARC awarded $1.92 million to Bevill State Community College in Jasper, Ala. for the Bevill State Community College POWER 2016 Initiative. “The project will create a new Rapid Training Center at Bevill State’s Jasper campus that will serve as a regional workforce training and job placement hub in northwest Alabama—an area that has been adversely affected by the recent retirement of coal-fired power generation facilities and the closure of multiple coal mines.”

Other awards:

— $1.5 million to West Alabama Works for job training services for growing automotive and advanced manufacturing industries in Western Alabama.

— $1.5 million to Hazard Community and Technical College in Hazard, Ky. to construct a job training facility focused on: information technology, telemedicine and health sciences, mechatronics and eco-tourism/small business development.

— $1.5 million to Marshall University Research Corporation in Huntington, W.Va. to assist businesses “return to profitability through the adoption and deployment of emerging advanced manufacturing —primarily 3D printing and additive manufacturing.”

For a complete list of awards click here.

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The Rural Blog is a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, from the IRJCI, based at the University of Kentucky. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is an extension program for rural journalists and news outlets. It takes no positions on issues and advocates only for strong news coverage, responsible commentary and things that make them possible, such as open-government laws. For more information see www.RuralJournalism.org.

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