When the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority and the Mingo County PSD jointly received nearly $1.4 million in EDA (Economic Development Administration) funding last week, the agencies’ focus on tourism as economic development got even narrower and the expansion just a little broader.
The funding received by the MCRA, which the EDA officially refers to as an “Assistance to Coal Communities” (ACC) award, was one of several awards doled out to various economic development entities/counties in West Virginia.
The awards were announced last week in Randolph County by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito and EDA Acting Head Dennis Alvord, where the largest grant — $2.5 million — was awarded to Armstrong Flooring, located in Beverly.
Regarding Mingo County’s funding windfall, MCRA Executive Director Leasha Johnson said the award will go toward a water extension project at the Twisted Gun Gap development area near Gilbert.
“First, this award will ensure the continued economic growth through recreational tourism,” Johnson said. “This infrastructure will capitalize on existing assets such as the Hatfield McCoy Trails, the Twisted Gun Golf Course, and the Tug and Big Sandy rivers, which will greatly enhance Mingo County’s ability to tout itself as a tourism destination. The funding will also support the proposed development of a 50-acre residential housing site in the Twisted Gun Gap area.”
Johnson said the purpose of the EDA’s ACC 2017 initiative is to help severely impacted, formerly coal-driven communities fund activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.
She said the Twisted Gun Gap waterline will produce multiple economic development results by nurturing entrepreneurial investment in various lodging facilities, restaurants, outfitters, and other recreation and hospitality infrastructure.
The project will also accelerate regional tourism growth, as well as result in new job creation and re-employment opportunities in the tourism, outdoor recreation, and hospitality zones.
“The Mingo County Redevelopment Authority is extremely honored by the EDA’s recognition of our diversification strategies through the approval of this nearly $1.4 million ACC award,” she said. “The Twisted Gun Gap water line extension will allow continued economic diversification around tourism and recreation that capitalizes on our existing assets. We greatly appreciate our Congressional delegation’s support of our EDA application as well as our efforts to create a thriving and sustainable tourism economy in southern West Virginia.”
In a press release, Capito emphasized the connection between an improved economy and the revitalization of communities.
“Economic growth starts at the local level,” Capito said in the release. “For several years, I have urged EDA to renew its focus and invest in West Virginia. “Whether its manufacturing, entrepreneurship or tourism, vibrant local communities are vital to the strength of our state’s economy.
“These public-private partnerships will fuel growth, and make West Virginia the best place to live and work.”