Pocahontas County Commission Receives $2.5 Million from ARC
On September 16th, the Pocahontas County Commission was awarded $ 2.5 million by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to provide fiber optic broadband internet services throughout the core of Pocahontas County. This award is part of a nearly $46.4 million package supporting 57 projects across 184 coal-impacted counties through ARC’s (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) or POWER Initiative. POWER targets federal resources to communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries. Additional support, in the amount of $1.083 million for the Project, is being provided by Citynet, LLC, the partner ISP for the project.
“The downturn of the coal industry has impacted economies across Appalachia. That’s why ARC’s POWER initiative helps to leverage regional partnerships and collaborations to support efforts to create a more vibrant economic future for coal-impacted communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Many of the projects we announced today will invest in educating and training the Appalachian workforce, nurturing entrepreneurship, and supporting infrastructure—including broadband access. These investments in our Appalachian coal-impacted communities are critical in leveling the economic playing field so our communities can thrive.”
“I couldn’t be more thrilled and excited that the ARC recognized and responded to the need so many of us in Pocahontas County have for affordable high-speed internet, delivered through fiber optic cable to the residence”, said Michael Holstine of the Pocahontas County Broadband Council. “The Pocahontas County Broadband Council and the Commission have worked hard together with our partners, Region IV Planning and Development, GVEDC, Generation WV, our engineer, Thompson and Litton, and our partner ISP, Citynet, LLC, to respond to these opportunities and I am so happy that the ARC understood our need and approved this grant.”
“High speed connectivity is required for economic development and stabilization in rural areas. This award allows us to bring remote employment and educational opportunities to areas of Pocahontas County where this was not possible. I would like to thank all parties involved for their countless hours of work on this exciting project”, said Jesse Groseclose, County Commissioner and Broadband Council member.
Since POWER launched in 2015, ARC has invested more than $287.8 million in 362 projects across 353 coal-impacted counties. The nearly $46.4 million awarded today is projected to create/retain over 9,187 jobs, attract nearly $519.5 million in leveraged private investments, and be matched by $59.2 million in additional public and private funds across the Region.
ARC is working with Chamberlin/Dunn LLC, a third-party research firm, to closely monitor, analyze, and evaluate these investments. A new report, published today in conjunction with the announcement, found that projects funded through POWER grants met or exceeded targets for jobs retained and/or created, businesses created, workers trained, and revenues increased. Chamberlin/Dunn is continuing to monitor POWER investments and make recommendations to ARC for ongoing programmatic efficiencies.
About the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)
The Appalachian Regional Commission (www.arc.gov) is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.
14 proposed projects in WV have received funding. Of those, 3 will impact Pocahontas County.
Project Title: Pocahontas County Quiet Zone Fiber Deployment
Grantee: Pocahontas County Commission
Award Amount: $2,500,000
Announcement Date: September 2021
Project Summary: ARC grant of $2,500,000 to the Pocahontas County Commission in Marlinton, West Virginia, for the 2021 Pocahontas County Quiet Zone Fiber Deployment project. The project will construct an aerial fiber network to provide broadband to businesses and households in Pocahontas County, the majority of whom reside in the federally mandated National Radio Quiet Zone within a 10-mile radius of the Green Bank Observatory. Pocahontas County must use fiber for this project rather than less expensive solutions like fixed wireless because the Federal Communications Commission prohibits the use of any electrical equipment that could cause radio interference in the Zone. The broadband provided by this project will help expand telemedicine services, establish opportunities for remote work, and support business development in the region. The proposed network is expected to reach approximately 24 businesses and 1,011 homes and has a projected
completion date of December 2023.
Project Title: The Market Fail; Power Skills and the Social Enterprise Mindset: The WV Jobs Network
Grantee: High Rocks Education Corporation
Award Amount: $1,499,924
Announcement Date: September 2021
Project Summary: ARC grant of $1,499,924 to High Rocks Education Corporation in Hillsboro, West Virginia, for The Market Fail; Power Skills and the Social Enterprise Mindset: The WV Jobs Network. The project will create the West Virginia Jobs Network to create pathways for employers and job seekers to fill existing jobs with support to align the right candidates to the right opportunities. Primary focus will be on southern West Virginia’s 54 counties and includes employers and students across much of the state. Activities will offer training and support services, create an accredited power skill certification, and pioneer a social enterprise mindset training curriculum. The network will be led by five anchor organizations that are experts in workforce, young talent, AmeriCorps, and STEM pipelines. Partners include Coalfield Development, Generation WV, First2 Network, and Bristol Connect. The project is expected to include 200 AmeriCorps members completing service in West Virginia, 78 participants in workforce development programs, and 30 first-generation and underrepresented STEM college students.
Project Title: Downtown Appalachia: Revitalizing Recreational Economies (DARRE)
Grantee: West Virginia Community Development Hub
Award Amount: $1,270,482
Announcement Date: September 2021
Project Summary: ARC grant of $1,270,482 to the West Virginia Community Development
Hub in Charleston, West Virginia, for the Downtown Appalachia: Revitalizing Recreational
Economies (DARRE) project. Focusing on recreational economic development surrounding
the Monongahela National Forest, DARRE will help eight small towns, including Marlinton, revitalize main street properties, link building owners with commercial tenants, and help communities develop the economic, social, and financial capital required to become thriving tourist destinations.
The financing partner in the project, Natural Capital Investment Fund in Charles Town, West Virginia, will make equity investments in high-impact projects with an identified need for more significant predevelopment investments. The project will tap the community revitalization experience of the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center and the professional insights of the West Virginia University School of Design and Community Development. Major financial support of the project comes from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Generation West Virginia, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and the One Foundation. The project is expected to serve 106 businesses and create nine
new businesses and 38 jobs.