(The Center Square) – The Appalachian Regional Commission plans to spend more than $11 million in taxpayer funds to address coal-related job losses in southeast Ohio.
The money is expected to go to 11 projects in the state that emphasize workforce and economic development in communities impacted by the downturn in the coal industry.
“We’re taking a forward-looking approach to economic development in Appalachia, helping communities embrace new industries and technologies for lasting growth,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “In Ohio, we’re focused on preparing our communities for the future, and this funding will help ensure that individuals and communities have opportunities for success.”
An ARC report published in August said U.S. coal production peaked in 2008 and dropped nearly 56% between 2001 and 2022.
At the same time, coal industry employment fell nearly 57%. In Appalachia, that number was 62%, compared to 43% in the rest of the nation.
One of the other programs is a $1.5 million grant to restore the Grand Theater in Stubenville. City officials believe the restoration will help attract new tourism and cultural development.
Other projects include $1.5 million for riverfront development in Portsmouth; $1.4 million to develop a manufacturing support center for southeast Ohio and border counties in West Virginia and Pennsylvania; and $2.5 million for broad ban projects in Ashtabula and Morgan County.
“Ohio is experiencing an economic boom like never before, and with the revenue we are generating, we can reinvest in harder-hit communities,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. “These grants will have a lasting, sustainable impact on these local communities so they can diversify their economies and create great-paying jobs.”
Since 2015, ARC has spent more than $62 million on 72 projects in Ohio.
The Appalachian region includes most of southeast Ohio, along with significant parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. It expands into Tennessee and northern Alabama.