The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded Belmont College in St. Clairsville, Ohio, a $5 million grant – one of the largest grants in the school’s history – to construct a new building for its construction trades program. The new building will provide students with lab and classroom space and is expected to take around two years to complete construction.
“EDA is proud to partner with Belmont College as it leads the effort to build a robust construction trades workforce in the Appalachian Region of Ohio and West Virginia,” said Ellen Heinz, EDA’s Economic Development Representative for Ohio. “This project will prepare students for good-paying, in-demand jobs that will help build economic resilience in the region.”
Belmont County is located in the heart of southeastern Ohio’s Appalachian region, which is one of the Energy Communities IWG top 25 priority communities. The Ohio Mid-Eastern region is working to enhance its community and future economic growth, which has taken a hit in recent years. The largest coal-fired plant to close in 2023 was the MW W.H. Sammis Power Plant in Ohio, laying off over 140 people. The grant will support regional workforce development in the construction trades, preparing students for good-paying, in-demand jobs in building preservation and restoration, HVAC repair and related safety programs.
“Ohio has a proud history of leading the country in manufacturing innovation. We’re building on that legacy by making new investments in Belmont College to train the next generation of Ohio construction workers,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown. “We know Ohio workers can compete with anyone in the world, and this will allow more Ohioans to build careers in good-paying jobs.”
Construction and manufacturing are economic driving points for the state of Ohio. Data from 2020-2021 shows manufacturing is responsible for 17% of the state’s Gross Domestic Product while also providing 700,000 jobs with an annual payroll of $43 billion for Ohio workers. Manufacturing is the largest out of 20 sectors for Ohio’s economy. 1 According to grantee estimates, Belmont College’s new building for construction trade programs is expected to aid Ohio’s manufacturing boom by creating 100 jobs and generating $200,000 in private investment. The EDA investment will be matched with $3.2 million in state and local funds.
Belmont College was also the recipient of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) POWER Award of $445,158 for its Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Training program in 2021. The project expanded the college’s HVAC training program to meet the needs of local HVAC technicians. Belmont College now has the proper equipment and trained instructors needed to provide additional classes in air quality and building management.
“Building a strong Appalachian workforce is critical to a successful future for our coal-impacted communities. That is why ARC was proud to award a POWER grant to Belmont College to support the growth of its HVAC training program,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “The training program goes beyond simply addressing the gap in HVAC worker in the region; it also provides hope and purpose to at-risk youth who are recruited to participate in the training.”
The Energy Communities IWG will catalyze private sector-led projects supported by government resources. The Energy Communities IWG is charged with advancing an interagency commitment of robust federal leadership in direct partnership with energy communities to foster economic investment and revitalization and ensure the creation of good-paying jobs. The Energy Communities IWG has identified billions in funding to support transitioning energy communities to help revive their economy for the future. Investments in projects such as Belmont University help ensure new jobs and opportunities will become available in new energy sectors.