WV Community Development Center Launches $9.3M Community and Business Resilience Project with U.S. Department of Commerce Award


WASHINGTON, DC – 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 grant package totaling $62.8 million. , with an additional leverage of $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 targeted regions. See https://eda.gov/arpa/build-back-better/.

The Hub is proud to lead the Community and Business Resilience Project as one of four programs in the ACT Now Coalition, which is building a next-generation economy in southern West Virginia. Community and Business Resilience Initiative partners include West Virginia Community Development Center; the West Virginia Hive, entrepreneurial arm 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 over $7 million in EDA grant funding with $2.2 million in matching funds from Claude Worthington BenedumFoundation, Appalachian Regional Commission 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, said this ACT Now funding will provide tremendous opportunities for progress in West Virginia communities: “Through our programs, 16 communities will complete community revitalization and climate resilience plans, more than 125 local resistances and development of ecological buildings. projects will receive seed funding for their implementation, 70 buildings and brownfields will be redeveloped, 120 new start-ups will be launched and 500 new jobs will be created.

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. technology manufacturing and other sustainable uses, green-collar jobs and the transformation of abandoned sites mining land in 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 West Virginia-based economic builders to work alongside residents to motivate and prepare them, ensuring that no community is left behind by the changes taking place today in the energy sector of our country. The initiative uses 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 and downtown). West Virginia Community Development Center will develop “Community Resilience Plans” for local resilience and prosperous growth, WV Brownfield Assistance Centers will help transform brownfields and BAD (Blighted, Abandoned & Dilapidated) buildings for these new economic and employment hubs, and Advantage Valley and West Virginia Hive will deploy entrepreneurial development programs to accelerate the start-up and expansion of businesses in these sectors.

“Through our work at The Hub, we are constantly inspired by the transformational leadership we see every day in West Virginia communities. We are excited to launch this new initiative to continue helping community and business leaders grow the state’s economy and build vibrant Main Streets throughout West Virginia,” said Tyree. “The Community and Business Resilience Initiative, as part of the ACT Now Coalition, brings together some of the most innovative and influential practitioners in business development, community development and brownfield relief in the world. State to provide comprehensive economic and community development services to communities and businesses throughout the project. multi-county footprint.

Community and Business Resilience Initiative partners are poised to deepen their impact in communities across southern West Virginia. “Advantage Valley is a very proud partner of the ACT Now Coalition,” notes Terrell Ellis, Executive Director of Advantage Valley. “With the award of Build Back Better funding, we look forward to expanding FASTER WV, our entrepreneurship program, to serve more counties and entrepreneurs with technical support and access to capital. We look forward to building a more resilient economy for our communities.

“WV Hive is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such an influential group of partners on this transformational project and deeply appreciates the trust of the USA EDA for 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 provide support to more entrepreneurs and business owners, but it will also allow us to work alongside partners to truly transform the business climate in southern West Virginia. “

Beyond the project led by the West Virginia Community Development Center, the ACT Now Coalition will undertake other innovative projects to transform a struggling coal country into an Appalachian hub of green jobs, innovative technology and climate resilience. . The federal grant will support seven other projects to:

Transforming a former factory in Charleston into a “Learning, Innovation, Food & Technology (LIFT) Center”;

Revitalize the long-closed ACF Industries factory complex in Huntington into the “Huntington Brownfields Innovation Zone” (H-BIZ) anchored by the RCBI Robotics and Welding Technology Training Center;

Redeveloping the polluted former Black Diamond plant owned by Coalfield Development Corporation west of Huntington in Wayne County into a new solar logistics and job training center for the Solar Holler Company;

Transforming a long-vacant coal miner training building in downtown Logan into the “Just Transition CENTER” for job training in bio-based 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 transform abandoned mines into renewable energy, clean manufacturing, open-air economy, and green innovation hubs; and

Launch the “RePower Appalachia” led by Coalfield Development Corporation and the Central Appalachia Network to fund and support renewable energy projects in southern WV.

The ACT Now coalition was launched in the fall of 2021 and is led by the nonprofit Coalfield Development Corporation, bringing together key leaders from West Virginia’s two largest cities, Charleston and Huntington; the coal community of Logan; our two primary educational institutions, West Virginia University and Marshall University; WV Governor Jim Justice and WV Director of Development Michael Graney; the state’s leading nonprofit community and economic organizations, including Generation West Virginia, the WV Community Development Hub, Advantage Valley, the West Virginia Hive, the WV Brownfields Assistance Centers, the Central Appalachia Network, the Nature Conservancy and d ‘others ; and more than 50 private sector companies and job creators.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice backed this effort with a major pledge of $2 million and other forms of support. ACT Now will receive millions of dollars in return and leverage support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Just Transition Foundation and other philanthropic organizations. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin was a strong supporter of ACT Now, and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Federal Appalachian Regional Commission Co-Chair Gayle Manchin, and other senior leaders personally got involved to support progress. and coalition efforts.

The US Congress passed and President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March 2021, which provided $1 billion to the US Economic Development Administration for a major economic development initiative. The EDA launched the “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” competition, inviting regions across America to submit the most innovative ideas for economic renewal. Of the 529 nominations received by the EDA in October 2021, 60 finalists emerged in December 2021. Coalfield Development was thrilled to be a finalist in the challenge, CEO Brandon Dennison traveled to the White House with top national leaders, and the ACT Now Coalition and the other finalists each received grants of $500,000 to get their economic revitalization plans ready for 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.


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