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Former coal-field town sees Main Street revitalization in visitor industry
Tazewell, Ky., has hit on a post-coal tourism-development niche by promoting a scenic highway that draws a growing number of visitors. An estimated 60,000 “motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts” came through the town last year, an almost fourfold increase since 2013. The traffic has allowed new retail businesses to open along a main street that was all but abandoned a generation ago.
Pushback in West Virginia against Trump’s coal-subsidy plan
One clear result of a White House plan to subsidize failing coal plants: Bigger utility bills for households, businesses, and industry in West Virginia. Skeptics of the proposed bailout include officials with the Public Service Commission’s Consumer Advocate Division, the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at the West Virginia University College of Law, and the Natural Gas Supply Association. The plan “would definitely drive rates up,” one analyst said.
Editorial: Wyoming Deserves a More Diversified Economy
The editorial board of the Casper Star-Tribune has called for a civil discussion around development of an economy that is less susceptible to the energy industry’s boom-and-bust cycle. “In order for Wyoming to flourish, the state must diversify its economy and adjust its tax structure in order to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and foster positive growth in Wyoming communities,” say the authors. “Economic diversification is crucial for the future of our great state.”
In West Virginia, programs like Refresh Appalachia, Reclaim Appalachia, and the Appalachian Bee Collective are helping former coal workers, and communities, create a path forward. "...the idea is to create a new generation of small-holding Appalachian farmers who will contribute to a larger agricultural community—one that’s appropriately scaled, diversified, and vertically integrated. "
Op-ed: ‘Our people must be the solution’
The president of Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. describes progress toward economic diversification in Eastern Kentucky, where data shows gains in career education, self-employment, and property-value assessments as education, entrepreneurship, and private-public partnerships begin to offset coal-industry losses. “Our people must be the solution,” writes the author.
Commentary: A Grass-Roots Push Toward Responsible Change
Pushing back against new federal policies aimed at propping up the old U.S. energy economy, local governments are crafting their own electricity-generation strategies, note the authors: “2018 is shaping up to be a year when neighborhoods, towns and cities take control over their own energy destinies, working to promote a just transition to clean energy for all, regardless of income, race or zip code
Study: ‘Tough Task Ahead’ for Coal Country
The Appalachian Regional Commission has published a study by researchers at the University of Tennessee and West Virginia University that documents “a vicious cycle at work” in the decline of the coal industry and its wide-ranging impact on local and regional economies. “Talk of bringing back coal is a distraction from the real work that needs to be done,” said the president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.
In coal country, a flood of money to build other businesses
Grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission support innovative job creation and training efforts in coal communities
Brandon Dennison of Coalfield Development Coorporation discusses creating a new economy for West Virginia
Commentary: Plan to Subsidize Appalachian Coal Mines Won’t Work
A project by Coalfield Development to turn an old car-parts factory in McDowell County, W. Va., into an arts center embodies a shift occurring across Appalachia in spite of misguided plans by the U.S. Energy Department proposal to subsidize coal stockpiling: “These policies make sense only as a kind of political theatre, according to which both the administration and its many supporters agree to pretend that it is possible to return to some mythical glorious past, when brawny American men, rather than machines or foreigners, smelted steel, mined coal and built things on assembly lines. That world is gone—and even in coal country, some have come to grips with its absence.”
$372 Million Lithium-Ion Battery Factory Will Help Diversify East Kentucky’s Economy
A California company plans to build a plant in East Kentucky to make batteries for the burgeoning electric-vehicle market. It will also move its headquarters to the area, bringing in a total of more than 1,000 jobs. State Sen. Ray Jones said the deal is “a game-changer not only for Pikeville and Pike County, but for the entire region.”
A Kentucky Miner and an MIT Tech Researcher Talk
“Agriculture and large-scale manufacturing typically doesn't exist in mountainous areas, so we saw that there was earning potential equivalent to our mining jobs in the tech sector, and that there was a demand for tech workers and that that was a product we could produce here and export over fiber optic cable to the greater market in the world.”
A 22-District School Cooperative ‘Aims to Remake Coal Communities’
The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, which includes 22 school districts, is promoting new possibilities for a region that has been overly reliant on coal mining. “It’s called the resource curse in economics … When you have a company town, what tends to happen over time is you crowd out the potential of other industry to make a case for their future.”
New Job-Skills Initiative in Eastern Kentucky
The East Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute this week began classes aimed at teaching new job skills to former coal miners in Johnson County. “Officials said jobs in the manufacturing industry will pay the same or more as what former coal miners were making,” a local television station reports.