Thursday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, applauded the Appalachian Regional Commission announcement of a grant for the West Alabama Chamber Foundation’s West Alabama Works in the amount of $1,459,335.
The grant will be awarded through ARC’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization initiative and will provide funding for workforce development activities that include both high school students and unemployed or underemployed adults.
State sources will provide $1,537,633, bringing the total project cost to $2,996,968.
“The Appalachian Regional Commission’s decision to continue investing in West Alabama Works is a testament to the program’s ability to promote workforce development,” Shelby said. “It is critical that we support efforts to foster an environment that will produce a competitive workforce and lead to a stronger economy. I look forward to seeing the lasting effects of this grant funding and the future growth that will stem from it.”
“Today’s announcement continues an ongoing commitment for innovative economic development in Alabama’s coal-impacted communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. “Investing in key regional needs now will benefit the Region, and the rest of the country well into the future.”
The roughly $1.5 million ARC POWER grant will benefit more than 1,600 workers and will help connect 1,020 individuals with employment. It will also provide 859 individuals with industry-recognized credentials. The training programs provided through this grant include General Education Development, Test of Adult Basic Education, high school diploma, short and long-term post-secondary training, and others.
West Alabama Works will service 10 counties that are negatively affected (directly or indirectly) by the decline of coal production. The counties impacted are Bibb, Fayette, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Marion, Pickens, Shelby, Tuscaloosa, and Walker. The Alabama economy was hard hit by Democrat Barack H. Obama’s “war on coal.”
West Alabama Works is a part of AlabamaWorks, which is a network of interconnected providers of workforce services, including the governmental, educational, and private sector components that train, prepare, and match job seekers with employers.
ARC’s POWER grant program is a congressionally funded initiative that targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been 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.
Senator Richard Shelby is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.