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Rahall to Convene Federal Officials to Help Chart Job Growth in Regional Economies
BECKLEY, W.Va. – U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Friday announced that officials of the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development will participate in a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, October 23, at the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Manufacturing to discuss how federal investments in southern West Virginia can facilitate economic growth and job creation in the region.
“Three federal agencies, all with a mission to help create jobs, have joined forces with higher education and the private sector to build a sustainable foundation for business development,” said Rahall, the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee which has jurisdiction over EDA and ARC programs. “I routinely talk with business people who have plans to start or expand their businesses, but they simply need a little advice or help. With federal funding matched by local partners in hand, we can focus help for our entrepreneurs, especially in manufacturing and rural tourism.”
The roundtable event celebrates the selection of two West Virginia applicants – Southern West Virginia Rural Jobs Accelerator, a project that is receiving a combined total of $717,985 in federal funds; and, West Virginia Value Chain Cluster Initiative, which has been awarded a combined total of $815,000 in federal funds – as winners in the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge. The Rural Jobs Accelerator Challenge is a pioneering effort of interagency collaboration, combining the resources of the EDA, the USDA, the ARC, and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) in one funding opportunity focused on regional approaches to rural economic growth. The competition was established last summer to bring greater federal attention and collaboration to the needs of rural communities and spur job creation and economic growth in rural regions across the country.
The roundtable will acquaint the visiting federal officials with the economic challenges and opportunities of West Virginia and demonstrate how the Rural Jobs Accelerator grants will facilitate economic growth and job creation in the region.
Federal officials joining Rahall for the roundtable discussion are Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, U.S. Department of Commerce; Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chair, Appalachian Regional Commission; and, Bobby Lewis, State Director, Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Rounding out the discussion panel are representatives of Marshall and Concord Universities; Boy Scouts of America; the Benedum Foundation and National Capital Investment Fund. Panelists will address topics such as the state of entrepreneurship (both the assets and the gaps) in the region; the network of partnerships that will carry out the project; and how the grants advance other recent publicly funded activities in the region. Moderator will be Dr. John Maher, Vice President for Research at Marshall.
Rahall was instrumental in encouraging the forming of the Partnership, expressing his strong support to Secretary Erskine; Appalachian Region Commission Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl; and, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager.
“Our state and workforce are primed for excellence; we have so much to offer. Our training grounds, workshops, research, and product development, to an extent, already revolve around an alliance with business and industry and the university. By more fully developing our economic development infrastructure we can create the opportunities our businesses and budding entrepreneurs need to produce jobs.” said Rahall.
The roundtable will take place from 10:30 – 11:45 a.m. at the Robert C. Byrd Institute, 1050 Fourth Avenue, Huntington. The roundtable is open to the press and will be followed by media availability with the federal officials. Federal officials will tour the Robert C. Byrd Institute facility prior to the roundtable.