An Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant given to a Tuscaloosa agency will help will deliver training and reemployment opportunities to residents in 10 coal-impacted counties of Central Alabama, including Walker County.
Residents in Bibb, Fayette, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Marion, Pickens, Shelby and Tuscaloosa counties will also benefit from the $1,459,335 ARC grant to West Alabama Works (WAW) in Tuscaloosa for the POWER2 Expand Initiative. This is in partnership with the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce and West Alabama Works (WAW), the regional workforce council.
"In addition to connecting high school students and adults with industry-driven credentials, the project will strategically connect unemployed and underemployed individuals with adult basic education and advanced training opportunities," the ARC noted. "This will enable them to obtain the necessary credentials to earn a livable wage.
"The training programs include General Education Development (GED), Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE), high school diploma, as well as short- and long-term, post- secondary training. The project builds on WAW’s strong partnership with local industries. The project will improve 1,615 workers/trainees, connect 1020 individuals with employment, and equip 859 individuals with industry-recognized credentials. Additional support for the project is being provided by the Alabama Department of Commerce and Cengage Learning."
The award was part of $22.8 million announced by the ARC Thursday to expand and diversify the economy in Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities through the POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. These awards are projected to create or retain nearly 1,000 jobs, benefit over 3,300 students and workers, and leverage more than $21.8 million in private investment into manufacturing, agriculture, technology, substance abuse recovery, broadband development, and other industry sectors across coal-impacted communities in nine Appalachian states.
It is a congressionally funded initiative that targets federal resources to help 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. ARC has invested over $144.8 million in 182 projects touching 312 counties across Appalachia since 2015. Bevill State Community College's Rapid Response Training Center in Jasper was funded in recent years with POWER grant funds.
ARC is currently accepting Requests for Proposals (RFP) for POWER 2019 funding. Approximately $45 million will be made available via the POWER 2019 funding cycle. Proposals are due April 10 and can be made via www.arc.gov/power.