Since 2015, ARC’s POWER Initiative has invested millions in projects working to create jobs, fuel new industries, and prepare students and workers for new opportunities in coal-impacted communities. ARC’s largest single POWER funding package to date was awarded in October 2023, with one state receiving an impressive 19 awards totaling $17.3 million – Pennsylvania.
More than 67 percent of Appalachian Pennsylvania’s 52 counties are coal-producing, and within those 52 counties are 195 economically distressed areas. Greater than these challenges, however, are the efforts of ARC partners to energize and revitalize these communities and help them rise up stronger than before.
Expanding Workforce Opportunities
Several Pennsylvania awards will go toward one of POWER’s most important goals: connecting both displaced and new workers with careers in emerging industries. The Tri-County Workforce Investment Board in Butler, PA received $1.4 million to prepare workers for the growing semiconductor manufacturing industry by providing free training in 15 coal-impacted counties. Meanwhile, LindenPointe Development Corporation’s Pennsylvania Cybersecurity Center in Hermitage, PA will use $1.15 million for the expansion of its job training and placement program into seven new counties.
In Pittsburgh, two POWER projects are not only creating workforce opportunities, but also providing services to help Appalachians overcome employment barriers. The Trade Institute of Pittsburgh received over $1.5 million to help trainees overcome employment barriers by providing paid work experience, housing assistance, and other critical support services. Similarly, Community Kitchen Pittsburgh is using nearly $700,000 to provide both paid culinary training and employment supports – such as assistance in securing childcare, transportation, and housing – to help workers succeed.
“We’re thrilled with the newest awards made across Pennsylvania from ARC’s POWER initiative,” said Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Rick Siger. “With a record number of grants announced during this highly competitive round, our successful applicants and partners will help us expand workforce opportunities, grow economic sectors, and increase entrepreneurial activity in coal-impacted communities across Pennsylvania.”
Growing Economic Sectors and Entrepreneurship
In addition to supporting workers, Pennsylvania POWER awards will also fuel the growth of economic sectors and home-grown entrepreneurs creating much-needed job opportunities. To help incubate businesses, Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation will use $1.5 million to renovate and preserve a 70,000-square-foot building on Main Street in Johnstown, PA for Pitt-Johnstown Future Works. Once open, the facility will house entrepreneurs and small businesses focused on innovative manufacturing. The Venango County Economic Development Authority received over $1.4 million for a similar project, which will create a restaurant and retail food accelerator in the revitalized Oil City National Bank building.
Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation in Homestead, PA is taking an artistic approach to economic development by using more than $1.4 million for their Partners for Creative Economy project. By bringing together artists and designers with community groups, municipal leaders, and heritage tourism assets, Rivers of Steel aims to build local creative leadership, provide career opportunities in historic trades, and boost the area’s tourism sector.
Building Broadband Connection
Nearly any economic project, whether for the manufacturing workforce or the creative economy, relies on broadband. Washington County received $2.5 million to close connectivity gaps and bring high-speed internet to 857 unserved locations in East Finley Township. Over in Lycoming County, local leaders will use $50,000 to launch broadband planning and identify what areas – especially those with healthcare facilities, libraries, local government buildings, schools, and key employers – are unserved or underserved.
Together, Pennsylvania’s 19 projects are anticipated to serve 1,121 workers and 1,794 businesses, create 685 new jobs and attract nearly $43 million in additional private investment. ARC looks forward to seeing how these projects will bring new life to Pennsylvania’s coal-impacted communities.
Learn more about the $54 million ARC’s POWER Initiative awarded to coal-impacted communities in October 2023. This is the largest single POWER investment package since the initiative’s launch in 2015.