PINEVILLE, KY. (May 11, 2023) – Public, private, and nonprofit partners came together today to connect Eastern Kentucky counties with new federal funding opportunities available through the American Rescue Plan Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act that can build economic prosperity and support fossil energy workers in Appalachia Kentucky.
“Our goal is to empower communities, like those in Eastern Kentucky, to take advantage of the historic federal investments that position energy communities to thrive as the nation transitions to a clean energy economy,” said Energy Communities IWG Executive Director Brian Anderson. “We are fortunate to have partners like ARC, USDA Rural Development and RPN who understand the urgency of the energy transition in America and who are committed to helping us coordinate federal efforts that will support energy communities and workers in Eastern Kentucky.”
Hosted by the Rural Partners Network (RPN), the federal convening featured federal officials representing the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization (Energy Communities IWG), U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Appalachian Regional Commission. RPN is an all-of-government approach to help previously underserved communities in rural America through job creation, infrastructure development, and community improvement.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development staff serve as the front door for RPN communities and are tasked with providing technical assistance to help communities access federal resources. RPN efforts in Appalachia Kentucky will be focused on Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry, Whitley, and adjacent counties.
“The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA want to ensure all people in rural places have a fair shot at a prosperous future they design for themselves,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Farrah Ahmad said. “The Rural Partners Network is proud to work with the resilient people of eastern Kentucky to build a future that includes ample access to affordable housing, good jobs, quality health care, and strong, sustainable food and agricultural systems. The partnerships we’ve formed here are helping local projects have lasting impacts for generations to come.”
As part of today’s event, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced nearly $500,000 in new federal funding to support five Appalachian Kentucky area development districts. READY LDDs give special consideration to Appalachian LDDs serving at least one of the following:
- Distressed areas;
- Energy Communities IWG priority communities;
- Smaller under-resourced, and difficult to reach populations, organizations, and local governments; and
- Historically marginalized populations.
“The work of ARC’s local development district partners is integral to our mission of expanding opportunities to residents across the Appalachian region,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “I applaud the work of Eastern Kentucky’s area development districts, and am excited to see their communities grow and access new opportunities as a result of the READY LDD grants.”
This latest funding investment will support capacity building in Appalachian Kentucky and help these communities to best utilize the historic investments available to energy communities through the American Rescue Plan Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Established by an executive order during President Joe Biden’s first week in office, the Energy Communities IWG is pursuing a whole-of-government approach to create good-paying union jobs, spur economic revitalization, remediate environmental degradation and support energy workers in coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities across the country. The Energy Communities IWG supports the administration’s goals of a carbon emission-free electricity sector by 2035 and economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050. Learn more at energycommunities.gov.
The Rural Partners Network was launched in April 2022 as an all-of-government approach to community and economic development. While it is USDA-led, the initiative includes support from more than 20 federal agencies and commissions. Community networks receive on-the-ground support from full-time federal staff who live and work locally. These staff members provide technical assistance based on each community’s needs, helping them navigate federal programs, build relationships and prepare successful applications for funding. Learn more at rural.gov.
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development entity of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. Learn more at arc.gov.
Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation’s mission is to provide and retain employment opportunities in Southeastern Kentucky through sound financial investments and the provision of managerial assistance, and their purpose is to coordinate, devise, implement, and promote community, economic, and social development efforts within their 22-county footprint. Learn more at khic.org.