FUNDING FOR APPALACHIA
Created by the Obama administration in 2015, the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) makes federal resources available to communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production. Transitioning communities can tap into POWER funds to diversify their economies, attract new investments to create jobs in new or expanding industries, and support workforce and skills training.
Initially, the POWER Initiative was led by the Economic Development Agency (EDA) with significant funding coming from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Department of Labor (DOL). Grants were determined by the awarding agency and went toward both planning and implementation projects. During the Trump Administration, the ARC, which services 420 counties in the 13 Appalachian states, was the only federal agency to retain a POWER Initiative-designated program.
DIVERSIFYING LOCAL ECONOMIES
Under the POWER Initiative, the ARC awards implementation grants of up to $1.5 million; technical assistance grants of up to $50,000; and broadband deployment grants of up to $2.5 million. POWER prioritizes projects that are identified under state, local or regional economic plans and are collaboratively designed by a diverse blend of stakeholders. Successful bids typically aim to produce diverse economic development outcomes, including those that:
- Diversify the commercial and industrial bases of local and regional economies.
- Create high-quality, well-paying jobs in new and/or existing industries.
- Attract new sources of public and private investment.
- Provide a range of workforce services and skills training, including paid work-based learning opportunities, that lead to industry-recognized credentials for high-quality, in-demand jobs.
Funds are awarded through an annual, competitive bid process. Applications are submitted through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Access the current RFP and learn more about POWER here.
Just Transition Fund’s Take
When fully authorized, the POWER Initiative is a well-funded option for supporting a wide range of projects. To date, it has delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to local communities and leveraged hundreds of millions more in private investment while creating tens of thousands of jobs in transitioning communities.
Authorized and funded by Congress, the POWER Initiative’s funding levels can change from year to year. A longer-term, dedicated earmark and plan for ensuring funding amounts either stay consistent or increase will make it a more valuable tool for local leaders.