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Presented by the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization (Energy Communities IWG), Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, and Local Development Districts: BHRC, Eastgate, OMEGA, OVRDC

About The Event

Join us for the 3rd Annual Appalachia Forward Conference—a one-day networking event exclusively tailored for locally elected officials and their development staff in Appalachian Ohio.

This conference aims to unite local stakeholders committed to economic revitalization in Appalachian Ohio’s energy communities. Dive into in-depth discussions with federal officials and local leaders, focused on overcoming challenges and exploring the role of a multi-government approach in building a more resilient future for energy communities.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2023
  • Location: Belmont College, Saint Clairsville, OH


To confirm your attendance and participate in this significant gathering, please register here.

3rd Annual Appalachia Forward  
Wednesday, September 27, 2023  
9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. EST 
Belmont College 




Registration and Networking  



9:00 a.m. 



Amista Lipot, Director, External Relations, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, Ohio University and Executive Director, Mayors’ Partnership for Progress

Dr. Paul F. Gasparro, President, Belmont Community College


9:30 a.m. 

Remarks from Special Guests  

Lydia Mihalik, Director, Ohio Department of Development

Gayle Manchin
, Federal Co-Chair, Appalachian Regional Commission

Brian Anderson, Executive Director, IWG

9:40 a.m.  

Federal Agency Panel 

Moderator: Briggs White, Deputy Executive Director, IWG

US Department of Agriculture: 
Jonathan McCracken, State Director for Ohio

Environmental  Protection Agency: 
Jon Grosshans, Senior Advisor, EPA Office of Policy

Economic Development Administration
Ellen Heinz – Economic Development Representative – Ohio

10:00 a.m. 


Interagency Working Group Roundtable “Speed Networking” for communities  




Visit with the various Agencies from the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities & Economic Revitalization (IWG) during a speed network roundtable including:

Appalachian Regional Commission

Belmont County

Department of Agriculture – tentative

Department of Commerce
, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Department of Energy

Department of Interior
 – tentative

Department of Health and Human Services
  – tentative

Department of Labor
 – tentative

Department of Transportation

Economic Development Administration

Environmental Protection Agency


10:45 a.m.  

Lunch Break / Networking  

Craig Buerstatte, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs, U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

12:00 p.m. 

Appalachian Community Grant Program, Lessons Learned – Round I Implementation  


Getting ready for 2023 submissions, lessons learned to date

At Work in Appalachia: 
Steve Patterson, City of Athens Mayor

Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia (ORCA): 
Jessie Powers, Executive Director

Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program and New Leaf Justice Enterprises: 
Jennifer Siefert, Executive Director

Utica Shale Academy: 
William Watson, Superintendent

12:45 p.m. 

GIS Collaborative Announcement 

Matt Trainer, Senior GIS Project Manager, Voinovich Schoo

1:45 p.m. 

Local Development Districts 


Moderator: John Carey, Director, Governor’s Office of Appalachia

Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission: 
John Hemmings, Executive Director

Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association: 
Jeannette Wierzbicki, Executive Director

Eastgate Regional Council of Governments: 
Kathy Zook, ARC Program Manager

Buckeye Hills Regional Council: 
Chasity Schmelzenbach, Executive Director

2:00 p.m. 

Closing and Key Takeaways  


3:00 p.m. 



3:00 – 4:00 p.m. 

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