WASHINGTON, DC (WVDN) – President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced Friday, Sept. 2, that the federal government has selected the Appalachian Climate Technologies Coalition (“ACT Now Coalition”) of West Virginia for a joint of grants totaling $62.8 million, combined with an additional $30 million in matching funds from philanthropic foundations, local governments and the private sector.
The WV ACT Now Coalition and the West Virginia Community Development Hub (The Hub) are one of 21 winners of the highly competitive “Build Back Better Challenge” hosted by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at US Commerce, a national challenge of $1 billion to build new approaches to economic development and family jobs in communities
The Hub is poised to lead the Community and Business Resilience Project as one of four ACT Now Coalition programs, creating a next-generation economy in southern West Virginia. The
Community and Business Resilience Initiative partners include West Virginia Community Development Center; The Hive, a program of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority; Valley Advantage; Marshall University’s Southern Brownfields Assistance Center; and the Northern Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University.
The Community and Business Resilience Project will receive more than $7 million in EDA grants, as well as $2.2 million in matching funds from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Project with Advantage Valley, Marshall University Research Corporation and West Virginia University. to help communities, small businesses and entrepreneurs prepare for these new green jobs and economic development.
Stephanie Tyree, executive director of The Hub, says this ACT Now funding will provide huge opportunities for progress in West Virginia communities.
“Through our programs, 16 communities will complete community revitalization and climate resilience plans, over 125 local resilience and green building development projects will receive seed funding for implementation, 70 buildings and brownfields will be redeveloped , 120 new start-ups will be launched and 500 new jobs will be created,” she said.
The eight building and programmatic projects across the ACT Now coalition will create jobs in solar rooftops and community solar installations, upgrading buildings to be green and energy-smart, planning community resilience and entrepreneurial development, the redevelopment of segregated factories and unused brownfields for new green projects. manufacturing technology and other sustainable uses, green-collar jobs, and turning abandoned mining lands into productive sectors.
Program activities under the ACT Now coalition are expected to launch in January 2023.
The Community and Business Resilience Initiative brings together high-impact companies based in West Virginia
economy builders to work alongside residents to motivate and prepare them, ensuring that no community
will be left behind by the changes taking place in our country’s energy sector today. The initiative is based on a
three-pronged approach that serves as the foundation for successful economic diversification: people
(leadership and business development), planning (strategic and community resilience plans) and places
(community development and downtown). The West Virginia Community Development Center
developing “community resilience plans” for local resilience and prosperous growth, the WV Brownfield
Support Centers will help transform Brownfields and BAD (Blighted, Abandoned & Dilapidated)
The buildings of these new economic and employment centers, and Advantage Valley and West Virginia Hive will be
deploy entrepreneurial development programs to accelerate the start-up and expansion of businesses in these
“Through our work at The Hub, we are constantly inspired by the transformational leadership we see
every day in West Virginia communities. We are delighted to launch this new initiative to continue
support community and business leaders to grow the state’s economy and build vibrant main streets
all over West Virginia,” Tyree says. “The Community and Business Resilience Initiative, as part of the
ACT Now Coalition, brings together some of the most innovative and impactful business developments,
community development and brownfield assistance practitioners in the state to provide a comprehensive solution
economic and community development services for communities and businesses across the
the project’s multi-county footprint.
Community and Business Resilience Initiative partners are poised to deepen their impact through
communities in southern West Virginia. “Advantage Valley is a very proud partner of ACT Now
Coalition,” notes Terrell Ellis, executive director of Advantage Valley. “With the price of
Build Back Better, we look forward to expanding FASTER WV, our entrepreneurship program,
to serve more counties and entrepreneurs with technical support and access to capital. We’re waiting impatiently
building a more resilient economy for our communities.
“The WV Hive is delighted to have the opportunity to work with such an influential group of partners on
this transformational project and deeply appreciate the U.S. EDA’s confidence in this award,” commented
Judy Moore, Executive Director of WV Hive and Deputy Director of New River Gorge Regional
Development Authority (NRGRDA). “The work will not only allow us to supply more contractors
and business owners with support, but it will also allow us to work alongside partners to truly transform
the business climate for southern West Virginia.
Beyond the project led by the West Virginia Community Development Hub, the ACT Now Coalition
undertake other innovative projects to transform a struggling coal country into an Appalachian hub
green jobs, innovative technologies and climate resilience. The federal grant will support seven
other projects for:
● Transformed a former factory in Charleston into a “Learning, Innovation, Food & Technology
● Revitalize the long-closed ACF Industries industrial complex in Huntington, by
“Huntington Brownfields Innovation Zone” (H-BIZ) anchored by the RCBI Welding &
Robotics Technology Training Center;
● Redevelop the former polluted Black Diamond plant owned by Coalfield Development
Corporation in West Huntington in Wayne County in new solar logistics and vocational training
Solar Holler company hub;
● Converted a long-vacant coal miner training building in downtown Logan into a
Transition CENTER” for professional training in biobased manufacturing and technology;
● Launch “GROW Now” (Growing Resilience Opportunities for Workers) to train a workforce
in digital technologies and green buildings led by the nonprofit Generation West Virginia and
the Southern WV Economic Development Alliance at Marshall University;
● Establish the “Sustainable Mine Lands” initiative led by West Virginia University and the
Nature Conservancy to turn abandoned mines into renewable, clean energy
centers of manufacturing, open-air economy and green innovation; and
● Launch the “RePower Appalachia” initiative led by Coalfield Development Corporation and
the Central Appalachia Network to finance and support renewable energy projects in
The ACT Now Coalition was launched in the fall of 2021 and is led by the nonprofit Coalfield Development
Corporation, bringing together the top leaders of West Virginia’s two largest cities, Charleston and
Huntington; the coal community of Logan; our top two educational institutions, West Virginia
University and Marshall University; WV Governor Jim Justice and WV Director of Development Michael
Graney; the state’s major nonprofit community and economic organizations, including Generation West Virginia,
WV Community Development Center, Advantage Valley, West Virginia Beehive, WV Brownfields
Assistance Centers, Central Appalachia Network, Nature Conservancy and others; and over 50
private sector businesses and job creators.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice supported this effort with a major commitment of $2 million and other
Support. ACT Now will receive millions of dollars in return and leverage support from Bloomberg
Philanthropies, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Just Transition Foundation and others
philanthropies. US Senator Joe Manchin was a strong supporter of ACT Now, and US Secretary of State
Energy Jennifer Granholm, Gayle Manchin, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, and
other senior leaders became personally involved to support the coalition’s progress and efforts.
The US Congress passed and Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March
2021, which provided $1 billion to the U.S. Economic Development Administration for a major
economic development initiative. EDA launched the “Build Back Better Regional Challenge”
competition, inviting regions across America to submit the most innovative ideas for
economic revival. Of the 529 applications received by EDA in October 2021, 60 finalists emerged in
December 2021. Coalfield Development was pleased to be a finalist in the challenge, CEO Brandon Dennison
went to the White House with top national leaders, and the ACT Now coalition and others
finalists each received $500,000 grants to prepare their economic revitalization plans
Implementation. In March 2022, the ACT Now Coalition submitted its proposals, and on September 2
the White House announced that WV’s ACT Now coalition had won.