The decline of the coal industry is having major ramifications in communities and regions across the country that have been historically reliant upon this energy source for jobs, a tax base, and sense of identity. In light of these changes, many coal-reliant communities are seeking opportunities to diversify and strengthen their economies through a variety of place-based efforts that tap into local and regional assets. These include supporting displaced workers with training opportunities, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, embracing placemaking and main street redevelopment, and exploring new opportunities in tourism, energy, and other sectors.
Two recent webinars focus on some of these emerging opportunities and strategies being used in coal country:
On March 22, the NADO Research Foundation hosted a webinar featuring two regions that participated in last year’s ‘Coal-Reliant Communities Innovation Challenge’ and are proactively moving forward with diversification strategies and goals. This webinar featured representatives from the Big Sandy Area Development District in Eastern Kentucky and the Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments who shared how changes in the coal industry are impacting their regions and workforce, what efforts are currently underway to support their regional economies through key partnerships, and what local assets have been identified to drive future economic development. This webinar will be of interest to communities and regions located in coalfields, are home to coal-fired power plants, or are part of coal transportation networks and/or coal-related supply chain industries. It is also relevant to any region that is looking for examples for diversifying its economy to be more resilient to unforeseen economic shocks.
- Brett Schwartz, Program Manager, NADO Research Foundation (Washington, DC )
- Denise Thomas, Community and Economic Development Associate, Big Sandy Area Development District(Prestonsburg, KY)
- David Hinkle, Program Manager, Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments (Gallup, NM)
On April 5th, The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) hosted a webinar entitled Can Coal Country Thrive in a Clean Energy Economy? . This webinar explored how traditionally coal-reliant communities can transition, diversify and strengthen their economies as the United States moves toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. Funding opportunities and work being done at the local, regional and federal levels to help these communities grow vibrant local economies were discussed, as well as a range of actions being taken by various coal-reliant regions to diversify and develop new jobs and sources of revenue.
- Brett Schwartz, Program Manager, NADO Research Foundation
- Tara Ritter, Program Associate, Climate and Rural Communities, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
- Julie Lawhorn, Infrastructure Program Analyst, Appalachian Regional Commission
- Hannah Vargason, Business Development & Energy Project Manager, The Conservation Fund
View this EESI webinar here: http://www.eesi.org/briefings/view/040516coal