ARC announces more than $12 million in POWER grants

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The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced more than $12 million in funding, through its POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, for Appalachia Kentucky projects. 

“I want to personally thank [Federal Co-Chair] Tim Thomas and his team at the ARC for their continued support and investment in transformative projects throughout the region,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR). “None of this would not be possible without the support of Congressman [Hal] Rogers, Governor [Matt] Bevin, Senator [Mitch] McConnell, and Senator [Rand] Paul..”

The announcement of funding projects, Arnett said, align strategically with SOAR’s Regional Blueprint, a comprehensive plan to drive innovation, development, and transformative change throughout Appalachia Kentucky.

“The projects awarded represent a wide-array of sectors, but they share the common theme of transformation,” added Arnett. “We look forward to working with these organizations to bring new opportunities to the people of Appalachia Kentucky.

SOAR Cornerstone Partner the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP) was awarded $1,461,078 ARC grant for its Eastern Kentucky Addiction Recovery & Training Program (eKART). EKCEP is partnering with Sullivan University and Addiction Recovery Care to implement the eKART program, which will bridge the gap between addiction recovery and productive participation in the workforce for individuals in recovery.

The program will provide valuable career training and supportive services, as well as cultivate second-chance job opportunities. This project will provide regional businesses with information on ways to provide a supportive environment for employees in recovery, increasing the opportunities for work-based training and apprenticeships, while also partnering with treatment providers to identify and recruit recovering individuals appropriate for those opportunities. Sullivan University, which is successfully training individuals in recovery to become Peer Support Specialists, will enable participants to return to the workforce in jobs where they can help other individuals enter and complete recovery.

The project will train 65 new peer support specialists and at least 125 individuals in recovery will re-enter the Eastern Kentucky workforce. Sixty-three businesses will be certified as recovery-friendly workplaces.

The Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation, a Blueprint Partner of SOAR, was awarded $1,301,983 to expand the reach and capacity of the Supplier Education and Economic Development (SEED) Program. The project’s training and support services will improve the competitiveness of manufacturing companies in coal-impacted counties of Eastern Kentucky and will help them acquire the competence needed to win government and private contracts. Key partners in the project are Advantage Kentucky Alliance (AKA), which will provide the training, and the Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center (KY PTAC), which will assist participating companies in developing new business with Department of Defense prime contractors. The project expects to create 350 jobs and leverage $3 million in private investment.

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), an East Kentucky Partner of SOAR, was awarded $1,463,927 for the Appalachia Aviation Maintenance Technician Training project. In partnership with two community colleges and regional airports, EKU will create an aviation maintenance technician program at multiple campuses in Eastern Kentucky. Identifying a growing employment sector, the project responds to the need for economic diversification, job creation, and workforce development within Kentucky's Appalachian counties. Each aviation maintenance technician cohort will begin training in classrooms at the Richmond EKU campus and two of Eastern Kentucky University’s regional campuses, Hazard Community & Technical College and Big Sandy Community & Technical College. Each is strategically chosen for its proximity to a partnering regional airport. Once trainees fulfill basic coursework requirements inside the traditional classroom setting, the training will move to the regional airports for hands-on work training. The program will yield industry-recognized certification and will serve 86 workers/trainees, all of whom will be certified and employed as aviation maintenance technicians.

Other awardees were:

$1,677,529 ARC grant to The Fletcher Group in Lexington, Ky., for the Recovery, Hope, Opportunity and Resiliency program (RHOAR), which will address the challenges of unemployment and opioid use in Eastern Kentucky by establishing new addiction recovery programs. The RHOAR initiative will expand economic development through workforce development, social enterprises, and entrepreneurship in collaboration with educational institutions to provide meaningful employment for those recovering from substance use disorders. The Fletcher Group will partner with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Fahe (another POWER grantee), Kentucky Housing Corporation, Recovery Kentucky, Operation UNITE, and others to identify information and criteria needed to complete the "tool kit" that will be utilized throughout the programs, as well areas to place new facilities. The project will serve 300 individuals in recovery and will leverage $24 million in private capital and up to $4.8 million annually in other funding.

$1,500,000 ARC grant to the East Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute, Inc. in Paintsville, Ky., for the eKAMI Workforce Development Program. Through eKAMI’s basic program dislocated, unemployed, and underemployed adults receive training in the CNC machining industry leading to certifications on Haas equipment. The project will expand the existing eKAMI programming to include support of a nine-month Young Adult Advanced Manufacturing Technology Program for those out of school and new to the workforce and support of the High School Advanced Manufacturing Technology Program, providing a career path for current high school students. The expansion will also include initiation of an Advanced Manufacturing Technology Teacher Training Program for high school career and technical education instructors, initiation of a Correctional Facility Workforce Development Pilot Program, and expansion of eKAMI's signature 16-week Adult Training Program for those unemployed and underemployed who have work experience in other careers.

$1,000,000 ARC grant to Fahe Inc. in Berea, Ky., for the Second Chance Employment project, which will create a stronger second-chance employment market for those in recovery from addiction in Eastern Kentucky. Fahe will work with local employers in 6 coal-impacted counties (Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Rockcastle, Laurel, and Pulaski) to expand successful reemployment models by creating opportunities for business owners to become part of the solution, and by enabling Kentuckians in recovery to craft a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. The project will create a coach/mentorship program for those interested in becoming Second Chance employers. Fahe will partner with DV8, an innovative business located in Lexington, Kentucky, that is pioneering a reemployment model built on providing second-chance opportunities for individuals in recovery by providing job training and above-average pay. The experienced staff of DV8 Kitchen (a social enterprise restaurant and bakery focused on hiring and training people in recovery) will educate local businesses and organizations on the facts about recovery and offer the chance for these organizations to apply for an intern. Employers will apply to obtain a six-month paid recovery intern, with the understanding that the employee will be hired after satisfactory performance. The labor pool for these internships will be derived from Kentucky addiction treatment centers. As a result of the project, 45 businesses will be improved through their knowledge of recovery-friendly workplaces and 30 workers will be placed as interns. Additional funding for the project is provided by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.

$867,582 ARC grant to the Appalachian Artisan Center, Inc. in Hindman, Ky., for the Troublesome Creek Stringed Instruments Company. The project will support a startup manufacturing company in making high-end custom artisanal guitars, mandolins, and mountain dulcimers from Appalachian hardwoods. The Appalachian Artisan Center’s existing School of Luthiery will serve as the workforce development arm and Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) will provide financial assistance for training for supplemental employment costs. The company will use an existing building and woodworking facility at the Kentucky School of Craft, which will be rented to the company at a discounted rate by the Hazard Community and Technical College. This will be Knott County's first manufacturing plant. The project will create additional demand for high quality Appalachian hardwood tonewoods and will support local businesses supplying these woods. The company projects new employment of 18 over the first three years, growing to 37 by year six and ultimately reaching 65 employees.

$833,670 ARC grant to the Housing Development Alliance, Inc. in Hazard, Ky., for the Hope Building program. Housing Development Alliance (HDA), in partnership with the Perry County Drug Court (PCDC), Hickory Hill Recovery Center (HHRC), Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC), and Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), will provide people in recovery from addition with training and support services to re-enter the workforce. Through paid, on-the-job training opportunities in the residential construction industry, Hope Building participants will develop a positive work history and gain valuable certifications while earning wages from on-the-job training. Trainees will be supported by EKCEP as they search for permanent job placement and will receive counseling and support services from HHRC or PCDC. Hope Building will benefit the regional economy by creating workforce housing in an area where the demand for new, modest housing exceeds the current housing supply. After homes are constructed and sold by HDA, the proceeds will be reinvested in the program. Over three years approximately 25 participants will receive training, counseling, and related services and build 15 units of workforce housing.

$76,000 ARC grant to the Lewis County Fiscal Court in Vanceburg, KY, for the Lewis County Broadband Strategic Plan and Feasibility Study. Lewis County, like most of Eastern Kentucky, does not have adequate broadband coverage. The project will conduct a feasibility study and craft a strategic plan to assist the county in creating a phased broadband implementation plan that can be used as a roadmap for action. The study will determine what broadband assets and resources currently exist in the county and determine what broadband bandwidth the community needs to foster economic growth.

$50,000 ARC grant to the Carr Creek Alumni Association in Littcarr, Ky., for The Magic of Carr Creek: A Community Revitalization Project. Designed to maximize the economic impact of over 690,000 annual visitors to Carr Creek Lake, the project will examine the conversion of a former high school into a multiuse facility. The project will conduct an economic feasibility/market demand study, develop a regional strategic agenda for tourism, and conduct community engagement and partnership development efforts. Project partners include the tourism offices of Letcher, Knott, and Perry counties.