More than $6.6 million awarded in Southwest Virginia grants

More than $6.6 million in grant funding has been awarded to entities in 25 counties and eight independent cities in Southwest Virginia, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced here today.

An additional $21.4 million in funding was awarded to projects that will benefit communities in other states

The funding was awarded through the Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization grant program. The federal multi-agency effort targets federal economic and work force development resources to communities and workers affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production, according to a news release from the governor's office.

“Each of the Virginia POWER grants announced today takes us one step closer to building the new Virginia economy,” said McAuliffe. “From the tourism and agriculture industries to drone technology and cybersecurity, we must do everything we can to leverage our homegrown assets and create opportunity and economic diversification in our coalfield regions. Today’s announcement is a big step forward and I thank the Appalachian Regional Commission for this investment in Virginia’s future. ”

Grant announcements for Virginia include:

• A $3 million award to Friends of Southwest Virginia to fund the Building Appalachian Spring: Growing the Economy of Southwest Virginia project, enhancing the outdoor recreation industry as an economic driver in a four-county region in southwestern Virginia.

• A $2.2 million award to Wise County Industrial Development Authority’s Virginia Emerging Drone Industry Cluster Project, positioning five counties in Southwest Virginia as a national destination for the development of a drone-operator workforce to support the emerging drone industry in the United States.

• Approximately $1.4 million to Cedar Bluff-based Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) for the Southwest Virginia Regional Cybersecurity Initiative, an initiative that brings together three colleges in Southwest Virginia – SWCC, Mountain Empire Community College, and University of Virginia’s College at Wise – to position this seven county Southwest Virginia area as a regional hub for the cybersecurity industry.

Bristol Herald Courier

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