On the second day of the 2023 SOAR Summit, Governor Andy Beshear and U.S. Representative Harold “Hal” Rogers, who was represented by his district director, Carlos Cameron, presented more than $26.6 million in Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) program funds to support economic development projects in nine Eastern Kentucky counties.
The 14 recipients, including two previously announced awardees in Boyd County, are projected to retain or create more than 200 jobs, train up to 240 Kentuckians annually, and serve more than 100,000 people via tourism, infrastructure development, or training opportunities.
Congressman Rogers established the AMLER program in 2016 to help coal-producing states revitalize in the midst of the downturn of the coal industry. Over the last seven years, he has secured more than $900 million for the program, including nearly $200 million for Kentucky alone.
Due to historic votes on Capitol Hill, Congressman Rogers greeted SOAR Summit attendees via video from Washington, D.C., applauding the competitive projects that were submitted for the AMLER program.
“The AMLER program is generating innovation, job creation, boosting tourism and expanding access to health care and education in the mountains. This competitive grant program is a great example of how federal, state and local leaders can work together to invest in projects that are designed to leverage the assets we have in each community,” saidCongressman Rogers, dean of the U.S. House of Representatives. “We have a unique opportunity to diversify and revitalize our rural economy with access to this federal funding, and I applaud our local leaders for bringing competitive projects to the table that will help shape a better future in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”
When completed, the projects in Boyd, Breathitt, Estill, Floyd, Johnson, Letcher, McCreary, Pike and Whitley counties will enable a jobs training program at the Appalachian Valley Autism (AVA) Center, water and wastewater infrastructure projects, renovations to the Mountain Arts Center and Elkhorn City Railroad Museum, a park compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in Floyd County, equipment for the University of Pikeville (UPIKE), College of Dental Medicine and more.
“Once again, this program is funding innovative projects that are bringing jobs to Southern and Eastern Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “Today we are taking another step forward in building that better Kentucky we all want – one where none of our kids and grandkids have to leave home to chase their dreams, because every opportunity they could want is right here.”
The projects selected for funding include:
- Pikeville Medical Center was selected to receive $2.76 million for a jobs training program and the construction of 8,000 square feet of space for therapy services at the AVA Center satellite campus in Floyd County.
- “The Appalachian Valley Autism Center has become an invaluable asset to our region by providing much-needed services to children on the autism spectrum. We continue to positively impact health care and economic development outcomes in central Appalachia by strengthening and building a competitive workforce by enhancing health care opportunities and diversifying the economy,” said Pikeville Medical Center President and Chief Executive OfficerDonovan Blackburn.“Anyone who knows me also knows my family’s personal story and my attachment to the AVA Center, which bears my granddaughter’s name. Thanks to God’s great mercy for many answered prayers that helped us to establish what has now become the nation’s single largest Applied Behavioral Analysis Center, right here in Eastern Kentucky.”
- Baptist Health Corbin Foundation in Whitley County was selected to receive $2.5 million for site work, utilities and excavation for a new medical tower, located at the northeast end of the campus.
- “Baptist Health Corbin operates one of the busiest emergency departments in the state. The impact of this grant will allow us to begin construction of a brand new, state-of-art emergency department, along with a new critical care unit with advanced equipment to ensure that we can continue to meet the growing medical needs of our people, here in Southern Kentucky,” saidAnthony Powers, president/CEO of Baptist Health Corbin. “We appreciate the incredible support of Congressman Rogers and Gov. Beshear as we work together to expand access to medical services, ensuring our region is a healthier place to live.”
- The city of Hazard was selected to receive $3.38 million to replace about 45,000 feet of waterline to increase the capacity of water available to the Coal Fields Regional Industrial Park in Breathitt County from 1 million gallons per day (MGD) to 1.75 MGD.
- “Ever since being the mayor, I have wanted to address the issues that the Buckhorn community faces with water. This funding will help solve that issue as well as get more water to the industrial park to allow us to recruit companies and jobs that we never could before,” said Donald “Happy” Mobelini, mayor of Hazard.
- “We are so thankful for the grant which will allow us to get more water to the citizens of our community and to the industrial park. This project is key to job growth and opportunities for years to come,” said Perry County Judge/ExecutiveScott Alexander.
- McCreary County Water District was selected to receive $2 million for the engineering and partial construction of a sewer line connection impacting the Cumberland Falls State Park and 110 households in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
- “On behalf of the citizens of McCreary County, we would like to thank all those who were involved in awarding this grant. A big thank you to Congressman Rogers, the Governor, the state legislature and the Lake Cumberland Area Development District,” said McCreary County Judge/ExecutiveJimmie W. Greene II. “This grant will be a big step for wastewater improvements for Cumberland Falls State Park and the 100-plus residents on Highway 1045 in McCreary County. With these improvements, this will reduce the risk of overflows to the tourist area and the almost one million visitors each year to the park.”
- Johnson County Fiscal Court was selected to receive $2 million to enable the Hager Hill Industrial Job Creation Project to put production equipment in its new manufacturing facility on a 15-acre Build-Ready site and the only rail-served industrial property in the region.
- “We are excited about the growth taking place in Johnson County, and the opportunity to bring in an employer that will create much-needed jobs in our region. This grant funding ensures that we are not only build-ready but job-ready, by providing the funding necessary to purchase production equipment for the facility,” said Johnson County Judge/ExecutiveMark McKenzie. “Johnson County appreciates the support of Congressman Rogers and Gov. Beshear as we work to fill and expand the Hager Hill Industrial Park with good-paying jobs for our skilled workforce.”
- The city of Jenkins was selected to receive $372,600 to rehabilitate its wastewater treatment plant with equipment that will enable a more efficient treatment process.
- “I want to thank Congressman Rogers and Gov. Beshear for helping the city of Jenkins. This funding will allow us to maintain and build additional capacity within our community for housing for flood survivors, Gateway Industrial Park and other economic development projects in our city,” said Mayor Todd DePriest.
- The Mountain Arts Center was selected to receive $1.02 million for a renovation that will include a new roof, HVAC and lighting system. The funding also will allow the facility to be updated and remain open.
- “We at the Mountain Arts Center are so excited and appreciative to be awarded this funding from AMLER. The money will go a long way to fix crucial and needed facility and safety upgrades for our beloved arts center,” said Executive Director Joe Campbell. “The MAC is such an important part of the regional arts education and tourism industry. We can’t thank Congressman Rogers, Gov. Beshear and AMLER enough for their continued support.”
- The Elkhorn City Heritage Council was selected to receive $59,800 to renovate the Railroad Museum to make it more inviting and appealing as a destination for travel and tourism. Renovations would include improvements to the roof and deck, as well as HVAC, lighting, windows, and signage.
- “The Elkhorn City Heritage Council wishes to thank all of those that were involved with the process of receiving the AMLER grant. Our town will benefit greatly from the substantial upgrade to the Elkhorn City Railroad Museum,” said Larry Lounsberry, president of the Elkhorn City Heritage Council. “We have had visitors from across the country and the world since opening in 1991. Now this one-time coal company office can be a foundation to a thriving tourist destination helping to revitalize our community!”
- The Kent Rose Foundation was selected to receive $500,000 to build an ADA-compliant, all-inclusive sensory park in Floyd County that would include playground equipment for various age groups, including those with physical and developmental disabilities.
- “The sensory park that we are working on in partnership with the Kent Rose Foundation, Courtney Crider and with Big Sandy Community Technical College is going to be an inclusive park. It is 100% for all children – to let them learn to play together and let them be a part of the same fun,” said Prestonsburg MayorLes Stapleton.
- The East Kentucky Heritage Foundation Inc. was selected to receive $4.5 million for the construction of the 8,500-square-foot Raven Rock Resort Lodge in Letcher County. Work will include utility connections for water, sewer and power as well as earthwork.
- “EKY Heritage Foundation Inc. is honored to be awarded $4.5 million in AMLER funding to construct a lodge and restaurant at Raven Rock Resort in Jenkins, Kentucky. This grant will allow us to make Raven Rock Resort a tourist destination while helping our local economy,” said Missy Matthews, president of the East Kentucky Heritage Foundation. “We are thankful Congressman Rogers and Gov. Beshear advocate for our region and recognize the beauty and possibilities of Eastern Kentucky. Because of their vision for our region, we will continue to grow and showcase our natural assets.”
- The Yard, in Estill County, was selected to receive $1.9 million for the construction of the R.J. Corman Pavilion Building and Glass House, track installation, restoration of the fuel tank and rail equipment and construction and renovation of the historic yard office.
- “This 2023 AMLER award is a game-changer for our project and is positive proof that the commonwealth is committed both to our project and to real investment in Appalachia and coal country,” said Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation Board President Chris Campbell. “The capital infusion validates the hard work our all-volunteer organization has put in over the past seven years and gives a big boost to the community that has welcomed us since our inception in 2016. We appreciate the Governor’s Office, Energy and Environment Cabinet and the entire federal delegation, including Congressmen Rogers and Barr for their show of support of our endeavor.”
- The University of Pikeville, College of Dental Medicine was selected to receive $3 million to purchase equipment such as oral scanners, oral microscopes, integrated computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing for its College of Dental Medicine.
- “We are so grateful for Congressman Rogers’ and Gov. Beshear’s support for the University’s efforts to provide for the ongoing medical needs of the region. Oral health is challenging in rural Kentucky, and we hope to meet the needs of the region by training the next generation of dental professionals here,” said UPIKE President Dr. Burton Webb.
Projects previously announced were:
- The Clark Family Discovery Center & Interactive History Museum will receive $1.38 million for the design and construction of a 12,000-square-foot Local and Regional History Museum on the center’s second floor.
- “At the Highlands Museum & Discovery Center in Ashland, we are shooting for the stars and the AMLER grant is just the vehicle to get us there. We are honored to have been selected and excited to move forward with the infrastructure improvements that will solidify our position as a key downtown destination,” said Executive Director Kim Jenkins. “On the heels of opening the state-of-the-art Clark Family Discovery Center, we will be able to forge ahead with the development of another floor of our museum to fulfill our mission to provide avenues of discovery for explorers of all ages. We are grateful for Congressman Rogers’ and Gov. Beshear’s continued support.”
- Ashland Community and Technical College (ACTC) was selected to receive $1.32 million to create a simulation laboratory for several degree programs. This lab will provide an environment for practicing job skills and will serve as a training facility for current employees of King’s Daughters Medical Center.
- “Ashland Community and Technical College is grateful for this funding as it will allow us to create a state-of-the-art simulation lab for all our allied health programs. This is critical as we strive to meet the workforce demands in the health care sector within Eastern Kentucky,” said Dr. Larry Ferguson, president and CEO of ACTC.
Information about the AMLER program can be found HERE.