State seeks economic, community development proposals to bring jobs to Appalachia; $30 million available to fund projects in Ky. coal fields…
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands wants economic and community development proposals that will attract new industry and jobs to Kentucky’s Appalachian counties.
Up to $30 million in federal grant money from the U.S. government’s General Fund is available to Kentucky’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) for pilot projects in Appalachian counties that have the potential to create long-term economic benefits.
“This pilot program is a tremendous opportunity for leaders in our Appalachian counties. We must identify projects with real potential for long term success. If used wisely, these funds will improve lives and strengthen the economy in the region for generations to come,” Gov. Matt Bevin said in a statement. “These funds will be vital to attracting more jobs and creating more opportunities for the people of Appalachia, while also solving the problem of abandoned mine lands. The potential of this program is enormous, and we must make the best use of these one-time funds.”
U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers R-Ky., chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, who worked to secure the funds through the FY 2016 Omnibus appropriations bill, said the funding will go a long way toward helping Kentucky’s struggling coal communities as they strive to rebound from the devastating loss of more than 10,000 coal mining jobs over the last eight years.
“The pilot will allow our coal communities to reclaim abandoned mine sites while simultaneously pursuing proactive economic development opportunities to help put our people back to work and spur innovation in Eastern Kentucky,” Rogers said.
Counties eligible for projects include: Adair, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Floyd, Garrard, Green, Greenup, Harlan, Hart, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Wayne, Whitley, and Wolfe.
“We are encouraging community leaders throughout the region to look at options that will have the best chances of bringing dramatic growth and jobs to Appalachia,” Erik Dunnigan, acting secretary of the Cabinet for Economic Development, said. “For example, several communities may choose to band together to upgrade industrial sites, including providing the necessary infrastructure and possibly spec buildings, so that companies looking to expand in Kentucky can be up and running quickly.”
Proposals are now being solicited and should include information about the project’s purpose, link to AML, cost, partnerships and/or leveraged funds (if applicable), and any evidence of community improvement and support.
Eligible grants recipients are limited to state and local governments, who may subcontract project related activities as appropriate.
A committee made up of officials from the Energy and Environment Cabinet, the Cabinet for Economic Development and the Department for Local Governments will evaluate all proposals and recommend a list of projects to the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, which will make the final decisions.
“We are looking for projects that will bring long term economic and community development benefits to the Appalachian region,” Charles G. Snavely, Secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, said in a news release. “The key is these projects will have to bring jobs and private investment while reclaiming abandoned mine lands for reuse. “
The pilot program is part of $90 million in funds that has been set aside for one-time grants to Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to return coal sites to productive uses that will bring new jobs to replace the thousands lost during the downturn of the industry.
Application forms for project submittals can be found at AMLPILOT or by calling or emailing Bob Scott, Director, Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, 2521 Lawrenceburg Road, Frankfort, KY 40601. 502-564-2141, Bob.F.Scott@ky.gov
Kentucky Press News Service