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RAHALL: WV Jobs Focus of New Federal Alliance Funding
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U. S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) announced today an alliance of three federal agencies is funding a university based jobs initiative in Southern West Virginia.
“I routinely talk with business people who have plans to improve or expand their businesses, but they simply need a little advice or help. Now three federal agencies, all sharing one mission, job creation, are going to focus on giving that help to our entrepreneurs, especially in manufacturing and rural tourism,” said Rahall, the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee which has jurisdiction over EDA and ARC programs. “Building on the successful funding of the Marshall–Concord EDA Center, RCBI, TechConnect and the National Capital Investment Fund will put this federal investment to work leveraging regional resources to create workforce development opportunities in advanced manufacturing and tourism across southern West Virginia. This funding brings to bear the continuous innovative spark of private industry and university-based expertise and technology, plus the time and trial-tested solutions and proven methodologies which can and do deliver.”
During a phone meeting last night with U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine, Rahall learned EDA, ARC, and USDA, under the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Initiative, has awarded $717,985 – one of 13 Rural Jobs Accelerator Grants awarded nationwide – to the Southern West Virginia Rural Jobs Accelerator Partnership, which includes Marshall University Research Corporation; the Robert C. Byrd Institute of Advanced Flexible Manufacturing; TechConnect West Virginia; Concord University Research and Development Corporation; and the National Capital Investment Fund. 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.
“The grant announced today will extend the scope and reach of the EDA University Center’s mission. Our training grounds, workshops, research, product development, to an extent, already revolve around an alliance with business and industry and the university. By more fully developing our grantsmanship and technical assistance infrastructure we can spread the word and tools businesses and budding entrepreneurs need to produce jobs.” said Rahall.
Last fall, Rahall was joined by EDA Secretary Erskine at a press conference to announce federal funding of $500,000 over five years to establish an EDA University Center at Marshall and Concord Universities to serve 17 counties in southern West Virginia. The Center will assist business and industry with planning and technical assistance utilizing faculty and programs with the two higher education institutions and the Robert C. Byrd Institute.
“The Center is proving to be a spark for job creation,” said Rahall in a letter to Secretary Erskine, supporting the Partnership application. “I just attended the first presentation of technical assistance awards to five companies; five entrepreneurs with ideas for innovation in manufacturing their products that can lead to creating future jobs. With the technical tools the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Flexible Manufacturing will provide, regional companies will have the know-how to put their ideas into production resulting in greater efficiencies and savings in energy use and product durability for the consumer.”
The Southern West Virginia Rural Jobs Accelerator Partnership is a layered, multi-dimensional response that provides technical assistance, workforce development, entrepreneurism support and a wealth of collaborated resources to rejuvenate existing regional assets in the tourism and advanced manufacturing clusters.