Federal funds to aid layoff-hit Appalachian coal communities

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Appalachian coal communities hit hard by layoffs will get $65.8 million in federal funding to help them diversify their economies, create new jobs and retrain workers.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, the White House and the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Thursday that the money will be available through the Obama administration's Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization initiative, or POWER.

Grants will be awarded to regional partnerships in coal communities. The partnerships must develop projects to diversify local and regional economies, create jobs in new or existing industries, attract new job-creating investment and provide workforce services and skills training.

Within the last year, coal companies Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal and Patriot Coal have all filed for bankruptcy protection. Peabody Energy says it may file for bankruptcy protection.