The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative 2020 grant cycle. Pending final congressional appropriation, ARC is expected to invest up to $48 million in fiscal year 2020 to continue investing in the region’s coal-impacted communities by building a competitive workforce, fostering entrepreneurial activities, developing industry clusters in communities, and strengthening responses to substance abuse. The focus of ARC’s POWER 2020 Initiative will remain on investments that are regional, strategic, and transformational. Yesterday, nearly 150 people were in Champion, Pennsylvania for the first of three ARC POWER 2020 Application Workshops. Led by ARC staff, the workshop focused on the core elements of a strong POWER proposal: project development, budget planning, performance measurement, organizational structure, and partnership development. Two additional workshops are planned for January in Ashland, Kentucky and Johnson City, Tennessee. Workshop registration, the POWER 2020 RFP, a resource catalog for applicants, and more information is available at www.arc.gov/power .
Since 2015, ARC has invested $190 million in 239 projects touching 326 counties via the POWER Initiative. These investment are projected to create/retain over 23,000 jobs and leverage more than $811 million in private investment into Appalachia’s economy. Most of these projects are multi-year with a long-term vision for economic sustainability. “While it is too early to measure the true impact of POWER funding and POWER projects, grantees described long-term vision for economic transformation driven, in part, by social change that includes the building of hope and the shifting of mindsets in areas that have seen severe economic distress,” noted Chamberlin/Dunn, a third party evaluator contracted by ARC to assess implementation of the POWER Initiative. “Reported early impacts include the power of POWER to set vision and build hope; progress toward potential long-term change; social change; and economic development.”