$40 million investment to bring more than 600 jobs to EKY

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Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 2:57 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - Governor Andy Beshear said several Eastern Kentucky communities received more than $9.9 million in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) funds to support 11 projects.

The projects will create more than 600 jobs and will generate up to a $40 million investment.

“ARC funds have been transformative in Appalachian Kentucky for years,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “We want people not only staying in Kentucky, but also moving here. These projects will benefit families for generations and help us build that better Kentucky we all want.”

A breakdown of those investments is below:

  • Rowdy Trailhead and Campground: The Perry County Fiscal Court will use $1.5 million for the Rowdy Trailhead and Campground project. Located off Kentucky Highway 476 in the Rowdy community of Perry County, the project will support outdoor recreation and tourism by constructing 30 RV campground sites with full hookups for water, sewer, electric and cable television, as well as communal facilities (bath house, laundry and ATV wash bay) and on-site infrastructure (sewage treatment, dumping station, waterlines and security). The campground will serve as the trailhead for Perry County’s ATV trails, which connect to a 75-mile loop passing through Breathitt, Knott, Floyd and Magoffin counties. The project will create 38 jobs within its first 15 months and lead to an estimated 24,960 overnight stays in the first year. Additional funding is provided by the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization Program and the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.
  • TEK Center Skilled Trades Training: The TEK Center Inc. in Inez will use $1.5 million for the TEK Center Skilled Trades Training project. The project will develop a Skilled Trades Training Center to support low-income individuals, individuals in addiction recovery programs and dislocated workers such as former coal miners, all of whom are greatly impacted by the decline in coal production and the substance-use disorder crisis. To encourage participation from these groups, this training center will offer training programs of one year or less that streamline these individuals into well-paying, high demand jobs. The project will serve six businesses, 125 high school students and 395 workers/trainees.
  • UPIKE Ag-Tech Innovation Center of Excellence: The University of Pikeville will use $1.5 million for the UPIKE Ag-Tech Innovation Center of Excellence project. Located off U.S. Highway 23 in the Kentucky Enterprise Industrial Park, the project will develop an agricultural research facility in partnership with the City of Pikeville that will serve seven counties in Eastern Kentucky. The facility will aid the region’s growing sustainable agricultural sector. The center will focus on seed development, environmental conservation practices and controlled-environment farming. Over the next three years, the project will help create 250 jobs and three new businesses. An additional $4.4 million in funding is provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
  • Growing Eastern KY’s Controlled Environment Production Ecosystem: The Kentucky Horticulture Council in Lexington will use $1,458,212 for the Growing Eastern KY’s Controlled Environment Production Ecosystem project. The Kentucky Horticulture Council will partner with the University of Kentucky, Community Farm Alliance and Kentucky Center for Agriculture & Rural Development to help prospective and established producers grow controlled environment agriculture (CEA) operations that enable year-round growing. This project will not only advance entrepreneurial support for new and existing Kentucky farmers but also develop a competitive, career-ready workforce to support the expansion of CEA jobs in Eastern Kentucky. The project will serve 484 businesses and 137 workers/trainees, improve 247 businesses and 110 workers/trainees, create 12 businesses, generate $185,000 in non-export revenue and leverage $185,000 in additional private investment.
  • Agricultural Apple Sorting & Packing Facility: The Big Sandy Area Development District in Prestonsburg will use $1.2 million for the Agricultural Apple Sorting & Packing Facility project. The project will conduct sitework at the East Kentucky Business Park to prepare for a new building addition that will serve as a regional apple sorting and packing hub across nine counties in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia and provide business and technical assistance to entrepreneurs. This facility will allow Appalachian farmers to access domestic and international markets. With upwards of a thousand acres of former mine lands in the region being converted to apple orchards, this ARC POWER grant will support the development of a new industry cluster. The project is expected to be completed within 10 months and will serve 300 businesses, support the creation of 260 jobs and leverage up to $30 million in additional private investment.
  • Preparing the Future of American Agriculture: Ag-Tech Apprenticeship: The Kentucky Community & Technical College System in Versailles will use $1,137,500 for the Preparing the Future of American Agriculture: Ag-Tech Apprenticeship project. The project will implement a training program for entry level workers and build a workforce pipeline for high-yield, year-round controlled environment agriculture, or agricultural technology (ag-tech), in Appalachia. This project will place recruitment emphasis on workers recovering from substance use disorder and traditionally underrepresented workers in the ag-tech industry. The program will support 350 workers/trainees through wage increases and career progression and improve one large-scale business through increased revenue from worker productivity and reduced product waste.
  • Appalachia Access to Capital – Phase II – Capital and Technical Assistance: The Community Ventures Corp. in Lexington will use $1.5 million for the Appalachia Access to Capital – Phase II – Capital and Technical Assistance project. The project will finance a revolving loan fund to increase New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) investments in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. The ARC funding will support second-phase technical assistance to Appalachian businesses and NMTC allocatees seeking investments. CV will align complementary sources of capital for projects that deliver new jobs or provide community infrastructure such as healthcare, education and social services. The project will improve 15 businesses and 10 communities, create 150 jobs and 15 businesses, and leverage $10.5 million in additional private investment over six years.
  • The EKY Community Accelerator: The Mountain Association in Berea will use $50,000 for the EKY Community Accelerator project. The project will help communities organize, build strong local networks and seize opportunities that create jobs and economic resiliency. The Mountain Association will act as the accelerator’s fiscal sponsor, and What’s Next EKY?! – a network of community groups and regional partners – will serve as the leading organization. During the one-year grant, the region will have a tested model of how best to help communities move toward resilient economies. The project will serve three communities and produce a regional report outlining a new toolkit.
  • Eastern Kentucky Equine Community Center Planning: The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) Foundation in Lexington will use $50,000 for the Eastern Kentucky Equine Community Center Planning project. The project will assess the feasibility of and provide a business plan for a potential Eastern Kentucky Equine Center. The center would offer space for businesses related to the equine industry and outdoor recreation, as well as workforce training to meet businesses’ employment needs. Workforce training would focus on formerly incarcerated populations and individuals in recovery and help develop a job and business pipeline for equine and mental health sectors. The center will help Southeast Kentucky leverage the state’s strong equine industry and wild horse population as economic assets. The project will result in a feasibility study and business plan over the course of one year.
  • Southeast Kentucky Regional Experience Package Planning: The Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky (FAKY) in Hazard will use 48,422 for the Southeast Kentucky Regional Experience Package Planning project. The project will coordinate tourism initiatives in Southeast Kentucky to build and market regional experience packages. These packages will align and market similar and complementary initiatives so visitors may enjoy the wealth of experiences that Southeast Kentucky offers. The project’s final output will be a pitch to investors and funders that demonstrates the need for and potential impact of developing regional experience packages. The project will serve five counties over the course of a year.
  • Southeast Kentucky Regional Trails Planning: FAKY will also use $46,838 for the Southeast Kentucky Regional Trails Planning project. The project will create an outdoor adventure development, marketing and maintenance plan for Southeast Kentucky that capitalizes on the potential community economic and health impacts of outdoor recreation. The plan will include an assessment of existing outdoor recreation assets, infrastructure and initiatives; a detailed vision of the future of the region, informed by community stakeholder input; and workplans to guide progress toward that vision. The project will serve eight counties over the course of a year.

Officials said this is ARC’s largest grant package to date.