$900,000 grant to bring natural gas to Hazard industrial park, may bring more jobs
U.S. Representative Hal Rogers and Governor Matt Bevin announced a grant Tuesday that they hope will create jobs in Eastern Kentucky.
The Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement, through the 2017 Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot program, granted $900,000 to the City of Hazard. The money will bring a natural gas pipeline from the central Perry County area to the Coalfields Regional Industrial Park.
State officials say the pipeline bring modern infrastructure to the park so it can compete with other industrial areas in the region.
"When we first started talking with businesses about coming to the industrial park, the very first question they would ask is, 'do you have natural gas at the industrial park?'", said Chris Fugate, State Representative of the 84th district. "And when we would say no, their immediate response would be, 'well then I can't come'."
Fugate says this project could be what is needed to help the region get back on track.
"Coal miners back to work. It's going to put people back to work and hopefully put some smiles on some faces so that we can keep our people here", said Fugate. "We're losing people too fast because of jobs. So this is a big help to us."
“The AML Pilot Program is actively reclaiming land for job creation, tourism expansion and fruitful innovative opportunities,” said Congressman Rogers. “Hundreds of new long-term, sustainable jobs are being created and I’m inspired by the ingenuity of Eastern Kentuckians that is being highlighted through this new pilot program.”
The entire pipeline project is expected to cost $2.98 million. Most of the money will come from federal funds. Hazard will pay $32,000 towards the project.
"We are grateful for an additional federal AML allocation that will be designated for economic development projects in our Appalachian counties," said Gov. Bevin. "This is another valuable tool that many Eastern Kentucky communities are utilizing to help revitalize their economies."
“It is rewarding to see a project like this get funding so that Hazard can take part in the economic rebuilding of Eastern Kentucky,” said Sec. Charles Snavely of the Energy and Environment Cabinet. “I want to thank state Rep. Chris Fugate and state Sen. Brandon Smith for their support and encouragement of this project.”
Perry County Officials say this project would not have come this far without everyone buying in.
"Everybody's on board to move Perry County and Eastern Kentucky, the whole region forward", said Scott Alexander, Perry County Judge Executive. "Congressman Roger's office played a huge role. The city and the county are working together. Senator Smith and Representative Fugate. It was a team effort."
Alexander says this project could be completed within 18 months of receiving official confirmation of the grant.