FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 08/25/2016 Contact: Kathlyn Terry, Executive Director
Appalachian Sustainable Development receives $1.5 Million to create jobs in Coal-Impacted Communities
Abingdon, Virginia, August 25, 2016 – Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), has been named one of 29 recipients in an announcement made yesterday in Huntington, West Virginia. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration announced a $38.8 million investment to grow the economy in the nation’s coal–impacted communities.
Appalachian Sustainable Development will act as the lead agency and will work with Athens, OH based Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) to pass through much of the funding to local and regional partners. The funds will support a Central Appalachian Food Enterprise Corridor. The 5-state, 43-county collaboration will develop a coordinated local foods distribution network throughout Central Appalachia that will connect established and emerging producers of whole produce, value added products and forest botanicals in Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Eastern Kentucky to wholesale markets. The ARC award will support planning, partner convening, and capacity building, as well as production and processing equipment, supplies, and distribution and labor costs, and will be supported by matching funding from the Just Transition Fund and CoBank. The corridor will act as regional economic driver — creating 120 jobs, retaining 250 jobs, and ultimately creating 95 new businesses.
The award is part of the Obama administration’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative and will stimulate economic growth and opportunity in communities that have historically relied on the coal economy for economic stability. With this announcement, communities and regions that have been negatively affected by changes in the coal economy are able to strengthen their economies and workforces.
ASD Executive Director, Kathlyn Terry, who participated in the event in Huntington, WV, shared her enthusiasm for the project. “We are so honored to receive this support. Our work began with a very local focus. But over the years we have seen that to truly help rural communities with such limited resources, we have to connect with regional partners. Those connections help us expand access to markets and identify more ways for families to earn a living. I look forward to working with our project partners to help create livelihoods for Central Appalachians that capitalize on the growing interest in local food and agriculture as an economic development driver.”
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Jay Williams explained, “The projects and awards we are here to celebrate today help communities persevere and flourish as they deal with the challenges presented by the coal economy. POWER invests in jobs and workers, and develops and implements strategies and projects that can help transform these respective regions, states, and our nation.”
More than 3,400 jobs are anticipated to be created and/or retained in agriculture, technology, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, and other diverse sectors in Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities. The awards have also attracted an additional $66.9 million in leveraged investments from other public and private partners.
ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl said, “Appalachian communities are actively engaged in creating diverse local economies that are resilient, sustainable, and strong. Local leaders and entrepreneurs will use these investments to develop, direct, and implement economic diversification initiatives which will have long-lasting impact.”
The POWER Initiative is a multi-agency effort aligning and targeting federal economic and workforce development resources to communities and workers that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production. The POWER Initiative is part of President Obama’s POWER+ Plan, a broader set of investments in coal-impacted communities, workers, and coal technology proposed in the president’s FY 2017 budget.
Appalachian Sustainable Development is dedicated to its mission to transition Appalachia to a more resilient economy and a healthier population by supporting local agriculture, exploring new economic opportunities and connecting people with healthy food. Since 1995, ASD has been serving more than 15 counties in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia. As ASD’s work continues, it will expand its focus to include regional partnerships that build important connections to increase market access and bring necessary resources to the rural communities in its physical footprint. ASD operates programs in sustainable agriculture/food system development, sustainable forestry and food access. For more information please visit www.asdevelop.org, facebook and twitter.