WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will provide six Pennsylvania entities with over $3.5 million in grant funding to help spur economic development. In total, ARC, which is a federal-state governmental agency that provides economic development assistance to a 13-state region including more than 50 counties in Pennsylvania, will provide $3,632,397. Barletta serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, which has jurisdiction over ARC, and has worked extensively with the agency to encourage economic development across Pennsylvania.
“When I talk to people back home in Pennsylvania, I constantly hear how there are jobs available but employers can’t find qualified workers to fill them,” Barletta said. “Pennsylvania workers deserve the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to fill these jobs so they can support their families. From coal-distressed towns to economically disadvantaged Main Streets, this funding will give communities a leg up in developing their workforce and growing their local economies. I’m proud of the work we have done with the ARC in my subcommittee, and I will continue to fight for economically distressed communities across the Commonwealth so that all Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”
SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG), which serves 11 Central Pennsylvania counties, will receive $40,000, the Western Pennsylvania Small Business Services for Coal-Impacted Communities (SBS) program in Pittsburgh will receive $1,227,447, the Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission in Altoona will receive $1,035,000, the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Assistance for Keystone Entrepreneurial Success (PA MAKES) in Pittsburgh will receive $670,000, the Community College of Beaver County will receive $587,950, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council in Pittsburgh will receive $72,000. These organizations plan to use their funding to do the following:
· SEDA-COG will use its funding for a feasibility study of broadband access in Clinton, Lycoming, Northumberland, and Union Counties.
· The Community College of Beaver County will use these funds to launch a workforce development initiative to increase enrollment and graduation from education and training programs to provide a supply of skilled workers for energy and advanced manufacturing industries.
· PA MAKES will provide targeted and direct assistance to companies in over 48 coal-impacted counties across Pennsylvania that will support small and medium manufacturing enterprises.
· The SBS program plans to use its funding to revitalize western Pennsylvania’s coal-impacted communities by providing opportunities for individuals looking for new jobs or to start their own businesses, main-street businesses in need of support services, and new and existing manufacturing and technology businesses.
· The Pennsylvania Environmental Council will use its funding for a feasibility study assessing the uncompleted sections of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail and the PA Wilds Loop, helping communities use existing natural and cultural assets in the region to diversify their local economies.
· The Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission plans to use its grant to recognize, encourage, and guide entrepreneurs to create new businesses or expand existing businesses, ultimately generating new jobs and investments.
Barletta has worked with ARC on numerous occasions to address challenges to economic growth in Pennsylvania. For example, earlier this year, Barletta introduced the Treating Barriers to Prosperity Act of 2018, which addresses the negative impacts of opioid addiction on labor force participation and economic development in the Appalachian Region. Specifically, the bill clarifies that funding provided through ARC can be used to support programs designed to eliminate or reduce barriers to workforce development, attract and retain healthcare services, businesses, and workers, and develop relevant infrastructure, including broadband, which can be used for telemedicine treatment. This legislation passed both the House and the Senate as part of H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which currently awaits President Trump’s signature to become law.