From October 2016 – July 2017, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation (NADO RF) partnered with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to continue providing mentoring and technical assistance to eleven multi-disciplinary community teams from across Appalachia as they accelerated their efforts to diversify their traditionally coal-reliant economies. This targeted initiative empowered and assisted county officials, regional development organizations, and their local partners in further developing opportunities for economic diversification, job creation, workforce development, and asset-based economic development. Specifically, this effort provided support to these teams in identifying implementable projects and strategies to form competitive proposals for funding under the POWER Initiative, as well as other sources of investment.
These eleven teams – representing 22 counties across Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia – were first formed in 2015 through their participation in NACo and NADO RF’s Coal-Reliant Communities Innovation Challenge, funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. County and regional leaders were asked to create teams to apply for the program to gain access to resources and experts that could assist them in retooling their coal-reliant economies in order to become more resilient to changing industry conditions. Teams that submitted winning applications were selected to attend one of three intensive, hands-on workshops guided by expert facilitators, coaches and practitioners. During the course of these workshops – and those that followed as a result of grant funding from ARC – counties and regions designed solutions tailored to their communities’ needs and identified actionable projects that could showcase the innovative potential of coal-reliant communities.
A recently released report from NACo and NADO highlights the strategies and efforts of these communities in Appalachia and can be found below.