The Wayne County company whose goal is to assist formerly unemployed and unskilled people — including those who live in Mingo County — get the training they need in on-the-job settings like construction, agriculture, solar and mine land reclamation, got some financial assistance this week.
Officials announced on Monday that Coalfield Development Corporation has been awarded nearly $781,000 to help the company further its mission in increasing job training programs and services for those southern West Virginians who’ve been adversely affected by the slumping coal industry.
The federal funding, which was secured by U.S. senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, comes from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families.
Manchin said it is important that entities like Coalfield Development continue providing employment opportunities in southern West Virginia. Just as important, he added, is that they continue receiving the financial assistance they need to afford these opportunities.
“Harmful regulations imposed on West Virginia coal country have led to a downturn in economic activity and displaced workers throughout the area,” Manchin said in a statement. “We are working to ensure each out-of-work miner has access to meaningful job opportunities.
“The Coalfield Development Corporation works tirelessly to help the miners of our state, and I’m excited to watch them use this grant to make a positive impact on West Virginia miners.”
Capito reiterated Manchin’s sentiment, pointing out that home-grown problems are usually best solved by the people directly affected.
“Community-based organizations use local knowledge to tackle local issues,” Capito said in the statement. “During my visits to Coalfield Development Corporation, I saw firsthand how they incorporate West Virginia traditions in creating opportunities for our state’s youth. This funding will support their successful job-training initiatives in West Virginia.”
Because the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority has in the past and continues to partner with Coalfield Development on projects like Refresh and Reclaim Appalachia, Mingo County’s incubator farm at the Wood Products Industrial Park, the aquaponics project at Kermit, and a housing development project on reclaimed mine land near Mingo Central High School, Executive Director Leasha Johnson believes Mingo County will definitely benefit from Coalfield Development’s of-late financial windfall.
Johnson said not only will the funding provide additional job opportunities for those in Mingo County interested in obtaining a CDL (commercial driver’s license), but it will additionally expedite the development of markets for the agricultural goods currently being produced in Mingo County by the Refresh and Reclaim Appalachia initiative.
“Products such as eggs, honey, broiler chickens, as well as pork products, that are produced at Mingo County’s incubator farm at the industrial park have a regional market that’s limited by transportation capacity to the Charleston and Huntington areas,” Johnson said earlier this week. “The same might be true for the fish and vegetables that are produced at the aquaponics project once it’s up and running.”
With the HHS grant, Johnson said, transportation limitations will become less restricted.
“(The HHS grant) will ultimately allow agriculture products that are produced in Mingo County by Refresh Appalachia and its local farming partners to reach broader markets, which will create an opportunity for increased production to more commercial quantities.
“I don’t think there’s any question, at least as far as the agricultural piece of Coalfield Development’s overall mission goes, that this grant is going to have a tremendously positive impact in Mingo County.”