U.S. Economic Development Administration: Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative
The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative is a new interagency effort to assist communities and workers negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector. Booming natural gas production, declining costs for renewable energy, increases in energy efficiency, flattening electricity demand, and updated clean air standards are changing the way electricity is generated and used across the country. These industry shifts impact workers and communities who have relied on the coal economy as a source of good jobs and economic prosperity.
The goal of the POWER Initiative is to align, leverage, and target complementary federal economic and workforce development resources to assist communities and workers negatively impacted by changes in the coal economy. “Coal economy” is a term that reflects the complete supply chain of coal reliant industries. This includes, but is not limited to: coal mining, coal-fired power plants, and related transportation, logistics, and manufacturing. By aligning and leveraging the resources of the Economic Development Administration (EDA), Employment and Training Administration (ETA), Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the Small Business Administration (SBA), this initiative seeks projects that reach across economic development and workforce development systems and support local solutions that implement existing economic development strategic plans.
This funding announcement is intended to competitively award grants to partnerships of regionally-oriented economic and workforce development organizations and other key stakeholders located in and supporting impacted coal communities. These grants will enable grantees to take deliberate and measured steps to build economic resilience, industry diversification, local and regional workforce pipelines, and promote new job creation opportunities. Funds across all four programs will be prioritized to those applications that establish a clear linkage between the proposed project and how it will result in local economic growth and diversification, job creation, and job training and reemployment for dislocated workers as outlined in a broader economic and workforce development strategy.
Eligible activities include helping communities: develop and implement local and regional programs to respond on behalf of affected workers and businesses; strengthen or develop emerging industry clusters; prepare and train the existing workforce for new jobs in high-growth or in-demand sectors and occupations; and develop and execute coordinated economic and workforce development activities based on communities’ strategic plans. These activities should result in more skilled workers moving into new job opportunities.
Although resources from EDA, ETA, ARC, and SBA are made available through one funding announcement, applicants will need to apply separately for each funding source they are interested in pursuing.
- EDA funding: EDA investments will be funded through the Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program to support projects that implement key actions of Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS) or equivalent regional economic development plans, and create economic ecosystems that support job creation, expanded markets, and economic growth. Eligible activities may include: feasibility studies, construction of key assets or facilities that are integral for diversification strategies, and building regional capacity to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. Projects must benefit impacted coal communities, but applicants need not be physically located in a coal community.
- ETA funding: ETA investments will be funded through a special National Dislocated Worker Grant (DWG8) offering, called POWER DWGs, to support initiatives that will prepare dislocated workers for good jobs in high-demand occupations. POWER DWGs will provide funding to increase the capacity of state, local, and tribal governments and their partners to provide dislocated worker services in response to business contractions in the coal economy with associated, direct and indirect layoffs. The proposed services and programs must be directly integrated with an economic development strategy that these same partnerships propose to develop and execute. The types of reemployment services that can be delivered through POWER DWGs include career services, workforce training (including work-based training), and supportive services needed to enable eligible individuals to participate in training and other reemployment services.
- SBA funding: SBA funds will be deployed through the Regional Innovation Clusters (RIC) program as contracts. RIC funding will support regional cluster initiatives: formally organized efforts to promote an industry cluster’s growth and competitiveness through collaborative activities among cluster participants, which could include industry associations, national laboratories, universities and large and small businesses. SBA-funded cluster initiatives leverage resources to provide specialized assistance to small businesses.
- ARC funding: This funding is specific to the Appalachian Region. Funds may be used to implement economic diversification strategies that have been developed through a region-wide planning process and designed to address gaps or shortages in the region’s entrepreneurial and industrial ecosystems.
Amount: Varies by funding source:
- EDA intends to invest up to $12.5 million in funds from the Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program; individual awards may be as high as $1,000,000.
- ETA intends to invest up to $20 million in National Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) called the POWER DWGs; ETA expects to make grant awards of up to $2,000,000 each.
- SBA intends to invest up to $2.5 million over five years through their Regional Innovation Clusters (RICs) program; one grant will be made for $500,000 with the option to extend it for another four years.
- ARC intends to invest up to $500,000 through the Area Development Program for projects located within their region.
Eligibility: Applicants may apply to any combination of funding from EDA, ETA, SBA, and ARC (for projects located within the Appalachian Region). The POWER Initiative is not setting prescriptive parameters for how an applicant team is comprised. However, in order to be consistent with the funding principles and be most effective in addressing complex economic development and workforce development challenges, there are some key stakeholders that are routinely engaged in such activities. Examples of partnerships are available in the funding announcement. ETA requires the State in collaboration with local Workforce Development Board(s) or an entity eligible to receive funding under section 166 of WIOA serve as the lead applicant.
Note: The July 10 deadline applies to EDA, SBA, and ARC funding. ETA will accept applications on a rolling basis.
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