HUNTINGTON, W.V. – The Appalachian Regional Commission announced a $2 million grant to the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) to implement a new economic development program in eastern Kentucky with the help of several partners. This investment was made possible through the Obama Administration’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. The POWER Initiative was created to support coalfield communities facing economic transition. This multi-agency effort is also supported by the Economic Development Administration.
MACED’s Economic Transition for Eastern Kentucky (ETEK) Initiative will support new business start-ups and help existing businesses expand and become more profitable. MACED will provide technical assistance and training as well as capital investments that can be structured creatively to meet the needs of the business.
“We need to create a new post-coal economy in eastern Kentucky that is more diverse, sustainable and equitable,” MACED President Peter Hille said. Creating a new economy requires strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem — the networks and resources needed to support entrepreneurs in a wide range of sectors, including energy, healthcare, tourism, local foods, sustainable forestry and the creative economy.
One key element of ETEK is an internship program in partnership with East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program. Laid-off coal miners will be re-trained to work in the growing field of energy efficiency. They will perform energy audits and energy efficiency retrofits that can generate significant savings for homes and businesses.
“Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit of the energy sector,” MACED Energy Programs Manager Jason Coomes said. “We have helped businesses save as much as $100,000 a year through energy efficiency alone.”
The new energy intern program will expand MACED’s outreach to businesses, and help business owners understand how they can save money while accessing needed financing to implement energy-saving measures. “It’s a win-win,” Hille said. “ETEK will put laid-off coal miners back to work in the energy sector, who will then help eastern Kentucky businesses become more profitable through energy savings.”
“Appalachian communities are actively engaged in creating diverse local economies that are resilient, sustainable and strong,” ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl said. “Local leaders and entrepreneurs will use these investments to develop, direct and implement economic diversification initiatives which will have long lasting impact.”
MACED is a 40-year-old Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that works with people in distressed counties in Kentucky and Central Appalachia. We seek to create economic opportunity, strengthen democracy and support the sustainable use of natural resources. We envision a just transition to a post-coal economy that is more diverse, resilient and equitable. Our four primary strategies are investing capital in enterprises and communities, building entrepreneurship and leadership, demonstrating development ideas, and conducting research and communications for policy change.
Additional information about the POWER Initiative, including summaries of the announced awards, is available at www.arc.gov/power.