ARC grant awarded

Published 1:58 pm Friday, October 6, 2017

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded the Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College (SKCTC) Appalachian Program a $596,250 grant as part of ARC’s POWER Initiative. The Southeast Kentucky Revitalization Project (SEKYRP), coordinated by SKCTC Appalachian Program Director Robert Gipe, will provide workforce training designed to help the central Appalachian workforce participate in the renovation and re-invention of communities in the region. SEKYRP will also engage developers in the re-creation of Appalachian towns and cities.

SEKYRP will train Eastern Kentucky workers in the construction trades, the hospitality industry, and design-related trades and connect them with employers and developers in their home communities. The project will provide training programs designed to get people back to work, prepare trainees for emerging work opportunities, and develop social and physical infrastructure better suited to seize economic opportunity and employ people in the future.

Gipe says of the project, “We are excited to show the world exactly how creative and engaged our workforce can be in bringing the hopes and dreams of our communities to life. This grant will bring new skills to an already skilled workforce and bring us together to accelerate the creative place-making already going on in this region.”

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The project will provide professional development for local contractors and their employees in skills that will help Southeast Kentucky rebuild and rebrand its downtowns. The project will train local workers to install solar panels; learn innovative, energy-efficient roofing solutions; and do mitigation of asbestos, mold, and lead; among other skills. This work will dovetail with acquisition of downtown properties in exchange for tax credit which will then be resold at affordable prices to investors willing to enter into covenants supporting sustainable development of community downtowns.

SEKYRP will create brief, intense training opportunities to meet the needs of employers in bars, restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts, tourist attractions, and other hospitality employers. The training will be developed in partnership with specific employers and will consist of basic skills particular to the partner employers.

SEKYRP will also create partnerships with artists, design firms, media companies, and tourism entities to train workers to create public art, websites, audio and video messages, podcasts, signage and wayfinding graphics leading directly to improved livability and attractiveness of central Appalachian towns and cities.

The project is a partnership between the Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College Appalachian Program, Christian Outreach with Appalachian People (COAP), and creative place-making partners in Covington, Kentucky, including design firm BLDG, urban planners MKSK, architects Hub + Weber, and the Center for Great Neighborhoods. Other supporting partners include the Harlan County Community Foundation, the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Community Economic Development Initiatives in Kentucky (CEDIK) at the University of Kentucky, and the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP).

ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative is a congressionally funded multi-agency strategy bringing federal resources directly to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.

SEKYRP training is open to any contractors, restauranteurs, designers, or others interested in community development in central Appalachia. For more information, contact Robert Gipe at 606-589-3130 or