Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear Joins Federal Officials to Announce New Program to Assist Communities Affected by the Downturn of Coal, Energy Production

Press Release Date:  Friday, March 27, 2015  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian

Multi-agency POWER Initiative makes grant money available for job creation, workforce development in coal communities

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear today joined several federal and state officials to announce the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative, which will award up to $38 million in grants to coal communities to support economic and workforce development. The POWER initiative is designed to effectively utilize a range of federal economic and workforce development resources to assist communities negatively impacted by the downturn of coal and energy production.

“It is no secret that our Kentucky coal communities have been struggling due to a steady decline in production, and we must continue working on ways to expand economic opportunities there,” said Gov. Beshear. “The POWER initiative emphasizes public, private and philanthropic partnerships tailored to the specific needs of each community. I believe the POWER initiative will be a strong component in helping our coal communities overcome their challenges and thrive in the future. We will aggressively pursue these grant funds with our local partners.”

POWER will award grants to using $28 million to $38 million in FY 2015 funds from the Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Labor (DOL), Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Grants will be competitively awarded to applicants including state agencies, local governments and stakeholders anchored in coal communities to develop and implement strategic plans that will:

  • diversify economies;
  • create jobs in new or existing industries;
  • attract new sources of job-creating investments; and
  • provide a range of workforce services and skills training that offer industry-recognized credentials for high-quality, in-demand jobs.

Grant applications are tentatively set to be announced in April and May.

Joining Gov. Beshear today were U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams; White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and former Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson; Senior Advisor to the President Brian Deese; and Lillian Salerno, administrator of USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Each spoke to the importance of the POWER initiative and the positive impact it can have on struggling communities.

“The Obama Administration is committed to supporting our workers and communities as they face challenges related to a changing energy landscape in this country,” said Assistant Secretary Williams. “EDA is proud to be leading the POWER initiative and we look forward to working with our federal partners to help communities diversify their economies and help workers get the skills they need to adapt to and thrive in this changing economy.”

 “The POWER initiative is an opportunity to bring together the best efforts of federal, state, and local governments and the private and non-profits sectors to help Kentuckians build a better future for themselves, their businesses, and their families,” said Abramson.

The Department for Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) will be the administrative home for POWER and coordinate the effort among the many federal agencies involved in the initiative. Grant selection, awards and execution will be managed by each authorized agency, with EDA playing a coordination role. For more information about the EDA, visit

$1.8 Million USDA Rural Business Loan
In coordination with today’s POWER announcement, USDA Administrator Lillian Salerno announced approval of a $1.8 million loan for a new innovative business in Eastern Kentucky.

Kentucky Dairy Product Innovations (KYPDI) is a health-and-wellness beverage business headquartered in London, Ky., that will become the first U.S. producer of low-calorie, lactose-free skim milk. Using the low-calorie, lactose-free skim milk, the company also has created a new carbonated and flavored dairy product called Fizza that has been approved for sale at middle and high schools across the country.

“Investing in small, rural businesses is essential to continuing the economic revitalization we are seeing today,” said Salerno. “The funding announced today will help support the Obama Administration’s vision by providing rural communities with resources to support small businesses and create new, sustainable jobs.”

The funding is provided through USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program. It will enable KYDPI to lease-purchase a 12,000-square-foot production facility in the London-Laurel County Industrial Park. The company plans to hire up to 20 employees as a result of USDA’s investment, which is supplemented by other funding from Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation and a Community Development Block Grant.