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A weekly email from the Appalachian Regional Commission
A weekly snapshot of news, announcements, and other tidbits from the Appalachian Regional Commission
ARC NEWS ROUNDUP  |  August 19, 2021  |  VOLUME 6, ISSUE 33

Building Back Better in Appalachia’s Coal Communities 

Appalachia’s coal communities have an incredible funding opportunity before them thanks to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA)’s "Coal Communities Commitment." Of the $3 billion EDA will invest through the American Rescue Plan, $300 million will go directly toward economic recovery in coal-impacted areas.

Interested in this funding opportunity? Here are a few key takeaways: 

  • EDA’s Coal Communities Commitment is part of the “Communities Built for All” portion of the American Rescue Plan. 
  • Organizations that are eligible for funding are listed here.

Eligible projects should focus on:  

  • Technical planning, workforce development, entrepreneurship, or infrastructure. Watch this webinar to learn more.
  • Long-term coordinated strategies that foster economic growth and regional economic links between urban centers and rural areas. 
  • Documenting the extent to which coal impacts a community or region's economy. 
Ready to apply? 

State-Specific Application Advice 

To help communities take advantage of funds, President Biden's Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities is hosting a series of virtual workshops, two of which targeted West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“In 2020, more POWER grants went to Pennsylvania than any other state,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. Watch the Pennsylvania workshop.

The West Virginia workshop featured a panel of economic development experts, including ARC POWER partners like Coalfield Development Corporation, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

Watch for the West Virginia workshop, which should be posted soon.

ARC Resources 

The work of our POWER Initiative partners offer examples of projects that are regional, collaborative, and transformational - everything that’s needed for the Coal Communities Commitment funding. Explore our full list of POWER recipients for ideas.  

Our POWER page also offers research on Appalachia’s coal industry ecosystem and other resources to help demonstrate coal's impact on a community.

Redefining the Narrative in West Virginia 

A key part of economic revitalization is empowering Appalachians to share their stories and define the Region’s narrative. Our POWER partner, WV Community Development Hub, is doing just that through “West Virginia Redefined.” The project documents the work of West Virginians who are redefining creativity, media, neighborhoods, and more in their community.  

The Monticello Ongoing Revitalization Effort 

In Harrison County, West Virginia, residents united to revitalize their community center, the Kelly Miller Community Center. The center offers a garden, supplies for neighbors in need,a computer center, gym, auditorium, yoga, book club, and more. Watch the documentary. 

The Vintage Theatre Company 

Launched and led by locals, the Virginia Theatre Company (VTC) Academy helps young people develop their talents in performing arts. VTC supports the Rustic Mechanicals, West Virginia’s only professional touring Shakespeare troupe; The Fearless Fools, a touring improv troupe; and many other programs in order to provide an outlet for creative expression across West Virginia. Watch the documentary.

Appalachian Governors Envision the Region

Each week leading up to Appalachia Envisioned, Appalachia's 13 governors are sharing their visions for creating opportunities and resilience in the Region. This collaborative and bipartisan project, led by ARC's 2020 States' Co-Chair Governor Ralph Northam, was launched in early July. Through the first week of October, 34 newspapers from New York to Mississippi will hear from every governor and ARC's Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. This week, Governor Lee's op-ed was published:

Key to Economic Success is
Workforce Skills

Through partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, we track our state’s rural progress in part by our number of distressed counties, which are those that rank in the bottom ten percent of the nation economically. We have cut our number of distressed counties by more than half recently — from 19 distressed counties four years ago to nine today. For the 52 Tennessee counties in the ARC footprint, that number has improved from 11 to six distressed counties.

ARC Issues RFP for Appalachian Community Capacity-Building Pilot Program

Communities across the country are still recovering from the negative impact of COVID-19. To accelerate the recovery, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has made unprecedented funding available to Appalachian communities. ARC invites proposals from qualified organizations to design and execute several trainings that seek to help Local Development Districts (LDDs) and local elected officials navigate strategically deploying ARPA Local Fiscal Recovery dollars into their respective communities.

Questions regarding all things RFP? Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for answers.

Proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. ET, August 27 and should be submitted as one PDF or Word document to ARPAtrainingforums@arc.gov

Check out the RFP for more information.

ARC Seeks Partner for Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy Development

ARC is accepting proposals from organizations within the Region to work in partnership with ARC on the programming, curriculum development, and execution for the Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy (AEA). Submitted proposals should describe a strategy for developing a residential summer camp experience for approximately 26 high school students on a college campus in the Appalachian Region.

Proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. ET, September 3 and should be submitted via a PDF copy as one document to academies@arc.gov.   

Job Opportunities

Join the ARC team! We’re seeking candidates for the following positions to support our mission:
 

Appalachia In The News

West Virginia Startup Turns Coal Mines Into Lavender Farms and Wellness ProductsTreehugger, New York, NY

How Virginia Plans to Spend $700 Million on Broadband ExpansionThe Virginia Mercury, Petersburg, VA

Guysville Resident Enrolled in Graduate ProgramThe Athens Messenger, Athens, OH

All Aspects of Grant Assistance Covered at Commissioner Work SessionExplore Clarion, Clarion, PA

Open House at MECC Center for Workforce and Innovation Aug. 14Kingsport Times News, Kingsport, TN

Map of the Appalachian Region

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.
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Appalachian Regional Commission
1666 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009-1068