March 26, 2023

Kentucky hopes to keep turning federal money into abandoned mine opportunities

Kentucky officials are looking for ideas on how to turn abandoned mine properties into economic development opportunities. Through the end of June, the state will accept proposals for $10 million in federal grant funds designed to lure new businesses or expansions to the Appalachian region.

Since 2016, 53 projects have received grants. That includes a Dajcor aluminum shaping plant in Perry County, a utility training program for linemen and crane operators in Leslie County and an expansion of the King’s Daughters Health System in Boyd County.

“Many Eastern Kentucky communities are already seeing the benefits of this program,” Gov. Beshear said in a statement. “One of the best ways to improve the health of the Appalachian region and build a better Kentucky is to create more stable, good-paying jobs like the ones these projects can provide.”

There are 54 of Kentucky’s 120 counties that are eligible to receive grant funding. Nearly all are in eastern Kentucky.

Grants are available for nonprofit organizations as well as local, county and state governments. According to a state news release, recipients can then subcontract project-related activities.

Applications need to include information about the project and its link to mining. The Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) will review all proposals, with state Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman recommended selected projects to the U.S. Office of Surfacing Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. That agency will conduct a final review before approving grants.

The state will hold webinars on the grant application process on April 30, May 7 and May 12. More information about the program can be found at the Kentucky AML website.

The pilot program is the brainchild of U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset. The veteran lawmaker has been able to get $540 million in federal funding for abandoned mine redevelopment, with $130 million of that going to Kentucky.

“I created this program in 2016 to fast-track funding for economic development projects to create jobs and help revitalize communities in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky where we have lost thousands of good-paying coal mining jobs over the last decade,” Rogers said in a statement. “So far, we’ve seen local leaders leverage these grants to strengthen our infrastructure, revamp tourism, enhance access to health care, expand workforce opportunities and much more.”

This article was originally posted on Kentucky hopes to keep turning federal money into abandoned mine opportunities

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