Up to $20 Million in Grants Available for Coal Communities in Appalachia

A building in Glouster, Ohio, in October of 2017.

A building in Glouster, Ohio, in October of 2017. Shutterstock

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It's the latest round of grants under the POWER initiative, which targets places where the coal sector has declined.

WASHINGTON — A process to award up to $20 million of federal grants to areas hit economically by downturns in the coal industry kicked off Wednesday.

The Appalachian Regional Commission issued a request for proposals for Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization, or POWER, grants, which are available to states and localities, along with other organizations, like colleges and nonprofits.

Priority areas for POWER grants include workforce development, broadband networks, supporting entrepreneurship activities, and building “industry clusters.” The Appalachian Regional Commission is planning to hold workshops and webinars in the coming weeks to provide further information about the grants.

There will be two cycles for grant awards. The application deadline for the first is May 1. For the second it's July 27.

POWER grants are part of an Obama-era program that dates back to 2015.

To date, ARC says it's awarded $94 million through the program.

Examples of past awards include $1.5 million for a training center at a community and technical college in Hazard, Kentucky and a $948,000 grant to help pay for the installation of 22 miles of fiber optic cable in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

The Trump administration in its fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, released last spring, called for eliminating the Appalachian Regional Commission. But the idea has failed to gain traction with lawmakers. The commission works on economic development in parts of 13 states.

In recent weeks, the White House announced that President Trump intended to nominate a state staffer for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, as the federal co-chair of the agency.

More information about the ARC’s latest request for proposals for POWER grants can be found here.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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