It’s about much more than some grant money!

Kent Spellman,
Founder and retired Executive
Director, WV Community
Development Hub

The WV Hub is a statewide, non-profit organization that helps communities come together to set goals for their future and connects them to the rich network of resources they need to meet those goals. In our network there are resources for:

  • Convening community conversations
  • Training community leaders
  • Recruiting volunteers
  • Building infrastructure
  • Reclaiming abandonedbuildings
  • Sustaining healthy food production
  • Teaching political action
  • Developing small businesses
  • Adopting healthy lifestyles
  • Finding funding for projects
  • Fostering community life

There’s a great deal of talk throughout Appalachia about POWER+ and the financial resources it could provide for economic diversification in communities impacted by the decline of the coal industry.

However, I believe POWER+ is about much more than the $100 million in federal funding it provides for those diversification efforts.

POWER+ is an opportunity for Appalachia’s agencies, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to collaborate as never before. In fact, collaboration will be required to secure the matching funds that are required, and to develop proposals of the scope and impact the funders seek.

POWER+ is an opportunity to show federal funders that Appalachia can use federal funds effectively and efficiently in rebuilding the economy in our coal communities, and as such, show that additional investments in revitalization are warranted. Let’s face it – $100 million is only a down payment on the investment that will be needed to achieve true economic diversification.

POWER+ is an opportunity to change the economic development culture in our rural communities, shifting the focus to more stable and sustainable models that focus on entrepreneurship, local ownership, and community-based enterprises.

It is time for Appalachians to come together in support of POWER+ and the additional funding that will be needed to rebuild our communities. It is time for us to state loudly and clearly that our coal miners, their families, and their communities deserve this support and so much more. And it is time for us to set aside political partisanship, traditional turf issues, and our nostalgia for the past, and to act boldly to create a new and different economy in our communities that have seen the coal monoculture collapse.

Let’s make sure that West Virginia gets its share of POWER+ funding. We’ve set a goal of $25 million in proposals in 2016, and another $25 million next year. Not every proposal will be successful, of course, but to secure our share of funding, it’s important that we ask for more than our share.

Here’s a basic overview of POWER+:

  • It provides funding to support economic diversification in communities impacted by the decline of coal, the closure of coal-powered electrical plants, or the loss of jobs in the coal supply chain.
  • In FY 2016, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will provide $50 million in funding, of which $45 million is directed toward job creation, with the rest directed toward technical assistance and planning grants, and the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) has pledged $19.6 million, $700,000 of which is reserved for planning grants.
  • • ARC expects an additional $50 million in FY 2017.
  • • Funding is focused on ARC counties designated as distressed or at-risk. Applicants are encouraged, however, to make their case showing how the service area for their proposal has been impacted by the decline of coal.
  • ARC project proposals are suggested to be between $500,000 and $1.5 million. EDA proposal should be between $250,000 and $1.5 million. Planning proposals may be significantly smaller.
  • Matching funding of between 20% and 50% of the total project cost is required.
  • Several foundations have stepped up to provide portions of the required match.
  • Proposals should focus on economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, and workforce development. They should be able to show results measured by the number of jobs created, jobs obtained, or businesses created.
  • Proposals should provide creative solutions; have a regional rather than local focus; be large-scale; can include assessment and planning as a part of the project; be targeted at economic restructuring; be highly collaborative; provide evidence of leverage; and be outcome driven.

POWER+ provides us the opportunity and the motivation to change the way we build communities and economies in Appalachia. It’s up to us to make it work.

If you would like more information about POWER+, and links to applications and application guides, go to ARC.gov/POWER, wvhub.org/POWER/, or contact Hub Executive Director Stephanie Tyree at s.tyree@wvhub.org.