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Local projects grant $ 2.7 million to coal-affected cities, creating 272 new jobs and training 1,300 workers

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A skills training center in Armstrong County, an economic development group and a health system in Pittsburgh received $ 2.7 million in federal grants to help communities affected by coal.

Pennsylvania received $ 15 million in grants and had the most grants of any state, covering 15 projects, for the Federal Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunities, Workforce and economic revitalization.

“These 15 project winners are focused on improving the way of life of people in the Appalachian region – by creating new economic opportunities, preparing a skilled workforce, investing in broadband and developing ‘other critical infrastructure and advancing community and economic development,’ said Governor Tom Wolf, whose office announced grants.

The grants fund projects on energy innovation, broadband investments, tourism, substance use disorders, behavioral health, and workforce academies.

Recipients of regional grants include:

• Armstrong County, Kittanning, $ 750,000. This grant will be used to build a workforce training center at Northpointe Industrial Park in South Buffalo. The new facility will use virtual reality technology and traditional teaching methods to train graduates of high school, technical schools and community colleges.

The facility will host training on “critical infrastructure”. These educational programs focus on and are supported by the utility, energy, and construction industries. The program is a means of attracting and training a new workforce as well as retraining and upgrading the skills of displaced and current workers.

Ultimately, this project should serve 1,300 trainees and 60 new classes.

“(This) was a concept a short time ago,” Armstrong County Commissioner Pat Fabian said. “This grant is helpful in turning this concept into reality.”

The planned 10,000 square foot facility will be part of the Northpointe regional campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Federal funding is critical, according to Commissioner Jason Renshaw, as it provides the matching required to access a $ 750,000 state grant from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Program.

• Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, $ 946,000 for the Road to Recovery and Reemployment project.

Allegheny Health Network has partnered with the Pennsylvania Orthopedic Society, the Rothman Institute Foundation for Opioid Research and Education, and pain prescribers in Appalachia, Pennsylvania for a series of opioid-based continuing medical education events. The project will focus in areas with the highest rates of opioid overdose, such as Westmoreland, Armstrong and Fayette counties. The project will serve 40 rural practices, improve treatment for 320 patients and improve 120 medical providers.

• Catalyst Connection, Pittsburgh, just under $ 1 million for the “REAL Jobs in Energy & Manufacturing” program. It will potentially help create 272 new jobs and mobilize $ 5 million in new private investment.

Catalyst Connection focuses on the energy and manufacturing sectors and attempts to coordinate new workforce development activities in a 12-county region. Its programs cover recruitment and pre-employment training; placement of manufacturing workers; training of workers and provision of real-time data on job demand and project analysis.

ARC is investing $ 43.3 million in communities affected by Appalachian coal with 51 projects that will create or retain more than 3,300 jobs, attract more than $ 110 million in private leveraged investments and match 81, $ 5 million in additional public and private funds in the region.

Mary Ann Thomas is the editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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