PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Big Sandy Community and Technical College was awarded a $3.5 million Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce Economic Revitalization (POWER) grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
“These investments capitalize on the growing momentum for a diverse economy in Appalachia,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl in a press release. “They are strategic, collaborative, and impactful projects making the region more competitive in technology, manufacturing, entrepreneurship, broadband, health, and a variety of other sectors.”
Hazard Community and Technical College and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College will join BSCTC to create digital innovation hubs for fast-track training for high-speed jobs.
“The transformation that we desire comes when innovation and collaboration collide,” said Joshua Ball, director of strategic communications at Big Sandy Community and Technical College. “By working together and leveraging resources, the Eastern Kentucky Coal County Transformation project will impact lives and serve as a catalyst to launch our region as a significant contributor in the 21st century workforce.”
The grant will help BSCTC establish educational programs that develop skills in cybersecurity, medical coding, and advanced manufacturing through their Eastern Kentucky Coal County Transformation (EKCCT) project.
“Developing accelerated, immersive, industry-driven training leading directly into employment opportunities in the digital economy — and rooted in real employer demand — will be a key to ensuring that Eastern Kentucky’s men and woman can compete for jobs and meet the needs of business today and in the future,” said Jeff Whitehead, executive director of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. “We are excited for the opportunity to collaborate with this initiative’s partners at Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Hazard Community and Technical College, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, SOAR, and some of Kentucky’s largest and most innovative healthcare and technology employers to provide critical support for Eastern Kentucky’s workforce, and open new career paths for dislocated workers and others in our region.”
Officials say the project will serve 300 trainees, improve the operations of 30 existing businesses for two years and lay the groundwork for the development of a vibrant and lasting digital economy in Eastern Kentucky.
“We have proved the power of collaboration in eastern Kentucky and have shown what is possible in the digital economy,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “I’m excited to see this program expanding to more campuses, and believe it is an important next step in the continued economic diversification of Appalachia Kentucky.”