WHITESBURG, KY – Today, the White House announced the first round of grantees for its Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, an effort involving multiple federal agencies with the goal of effectively aligning, leveraging and targeting a range of federal economic and workforce development programs and resources to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry.
Appalshop’s initiative, the Southeast Kentucky High Tech Workforce (SKHTW) project, will primarily serve Letcher, Harlan, and Bell Counties in the southeast Kentucky coalfields. This region is part of a larger area of eastern Kentucky that is the focus of intensified state and federal attention to the region’s outmigration and high unemployment rates owing to the depletion of its coal reserves and its lack of economic diversity.
“Appalshop is thrilled to partner with Southeast Community and Technical College to bring much-needed investment into the region. This award is further recognition of the role that art, media and technology will play in the economic growth of our region,” said Alexander Gibson, J.D., Appalshop’s Executive Director.
The proposed project will have an immediate impact by facilitating the hire of 16 new employees expected to join the staffs of the project’s private sector partners at wages above the average per capita income for the project region. The creation of these jobs by the Southeast Kentucky High Tech Workforce project will leverage $375,000 of private investment and will include the creation of an ongoing program which will continue to provide focused, hands-on leadership development with applied media and technology training that includes college credit. Another partner has expressed an interest in the creation of 10 new full-time positions in medical information technology and an investment of $500,000 during the project.
The SKHTW certificate program is possible via a collaboration between public, nonprofit, and private forprofit partners, who have together identified this opportunity for economic and workforce development in the coalfields. As lead partner, Appalshop draws on 45 years of experience in leadership and community development in Southeast Kentucky. Founded in 1960, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) is a public, comprehensive community and technical college that offers over 50 programs at five campuses with an enrollment of over 5,000 students.
In addition to the considerable experience of Appalshop and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College developing and implementing education and training programs in this region, Lafayette College’s Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project (EEGLP) in Easton, Pennsylvania provides a national and international perspective on local development, contributing expertise and capacity in brokering publicprivate partnerships and investments in economically distressed communities.
More information about the project as it develops will be available at www.appalshop.org.