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 POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) 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.
West Virginia Daily News has been serving Greenbrier and Monroe Counties since 1866.