Shaping Our Appalachian Region has been selected as a finalist for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Recompete Pilot Program. This represents a major milestone for our organization, ranking in the top 10% of applications for EDA’s most competitive grant in the federal agency’s history.
There were just 22 finalists invited to Phase 2 of the application process. Applicants selected for funding will receive implementation grants totaling between $20 to $50 million. Our application, The Eastern Kentucky Runway: Regional Revitalization through Workforce, was one of 565 Phase 1 applications from 49 states and four territories received by the EDA. According to an EDA announcement, this was the largest number of applications received for one of the agency’s competitions.
“This is a really exciting day. Thanks to great project partners, SOAR is in a great position to bring major funding to solve workforce issues in Eastern Kentucky’s most coal-impacted counties,” said Colby Hall, Executive Director of SOAR. “We’re grateful to the EDA for recognizing the strength and merit of our application. We look forward to submitting a competitive Phase 2 application.”
The Recompete Pilot Program provides grant funding to persistently distressed communities across the country to create and connect workers to good jobs. Recompete specifically does this by supporting long-term comprehensive economic development to reduce high, prime-age (25 to 54 years of age) employment gaps and increase wages.
Targeted counties and programming
Our proposed project targets 12 Eastern Kentucky counties: Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Perry, and Pike counties. Our goal is to bring these counties on par with the national average prime-age employment rate by creating programming and pathways to train and employ more than 33,000 people (ages 25 to 54).
How do we get there? It starts with partnerships. We’ve been working across sectors to create programming and pathways to train and place people in livable wage jobs today and prepare them and the region as a whole for new opportunities in the future. This success was only possible with the support of regional partners in preparing the application::
- Appalachian Regional Healthcare
- Pikeville Medical Center
- Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP)
- Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky
- Kentucky Community and Technical College System
- Code Kentucky
- Galen College of Nursing
- SkillUp Coalition
- Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC)
- Plumbers, Steamfitters, & HVACR (Local 248)
- Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky
- SOAR Innovation
- East Kentucky Dream Center
- Housing Development Alliance
- Appalachian Early Childhood Network
- Rye Development
- Edelen Renewables
- Kentucky Adult Education
- Community Action Agencies
The lack of people in prime age active in the workforce is a problem for existing employers in Eastern Kentucky. This also hinders attracting new industries to the region with over a quarter of prime-aged people out of the workforce.
SOAR’s proposal is built on the following investment areas:
- Social Enterprise Accelerator to launch businesses focused on filling community needs.
- Future Tech Transfer to ensure the region is prepared to seize the economic opportunities of emerging technology.
- Workforce Support and Training Network to help people complete the training they need to further their careers.
- Appalachian Digital Career Center to support regional training programs that prepare people for remote work.
- Patient Care Training Facility and Allied Health Training Center to support regional healthcare partners and provide new avenues for workers looking to enter the healthcare field.
- Outreach and Retention to ensure that the people are aware of and can access the support they need.
Our Next Steps
As a finalist, SOAR will work with partners and communities to draft a competitive and compelling application and will participate in feedback sessions and a virtual summit with national experts before submitting its final application in April 2024.
For more information on our Phase 2 Recompete Pilot Program application, contact SOAR Executive Director Colby Hall at email@example.com.