by Anthony Hennen
The Appalachian Regional Commission has announced almost $50 million in grants across the 13-state region, and Pennsylvania will receive $7 million to encourage economic growth.
Nine projects in Pennsylvania will receive about $50,000 to $1.5 million for workforce training, manufacturing, child care and feasibility studies for potential development.
“These nine projects will create jobs, diversify local economies, inspire stewardship, and improve quality of life for Pennsylvanians,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a release.
The money comes from ARC’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Initiative, which targets areas affected by job losses related to coal mining and power plants.
“In Pennsylvania, just like so many of the states that are part of the Appalachian region, this partnership has been one part of a much broader strategy to support workforce development and increase opportunity for Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said.
The largest award will provide $1.5 million in Fayette County for a Health Sciences Workforce Development Center to build a 6,000 square feet training center at the Fayette County Career & Technical Institute in the hopes of meeting the health care demands of Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia.
In Venango County, almost $1.4 million will go toward building trails for better connections on the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail and PA Wilds Loop Trail. The plan is to add almost 16,000 feet of trails in two years.
In southwestern Pennsylvania, almost $1.4 million will be spent on a Tri-State Net Zero Manufacturing Initiative project to “engage and connect manufacturers with strategies and opportunities; incentivize the deployment of net zero supply chain and clean factory strategies by providing ‘Net Zero Manufacturing Mini-Grants’; and identify pathways to scale up net zero manufacturing, among other activities.”
In Cambria County, $1 million will go to Saint Francis University to create an “Aviation Maintenance Technician school at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport” to provide the “coal-impacted workforce” with certificates and training for aviation work.
Nationally, ARC has awarded almost $367 million in POWER grants since the program’s creation in 2015, with 61 awards in Pennsylvania.
The funding is focused in parts of Pennsylvania that have been losing population, as The Center Square previously reported. As southeast Pennsylvania has grown, rural areas have seen population losses and economic struggles, either for job creation or for declining tax revenues that cannot cover the cost of government services, such as EMS.
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Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
Photo “Construction Workers” by Akin Victor.