Appalachian coal towns hit by layoffs due money for growth

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Officials say 29 projects in nine Appalachian states and in Texas are being funded by nearly $39 million from a federal initiative aimed at stimulating economic development in U.S. communities hard hit by coal industry layoffs.

Officials for the Appalachian Regional Commission and other agencies announced the projects Wednesday at a news conference in Huntington, West Virginia.

The funding comes from $65.8 million made available from the Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization initiative, or POWER.

Officials say the investments are expected to create or retain more than 3,400 jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and other industries.

Appalachian states involved in the projects are Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The ARC says about 23,000 Appalachian coal jobs were lost between 2011 and 2015.

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