A team of Obama administration officials visited West Virginia this week to promote new programs and proposals to help struggling mining communities and hear about ongoing efforts by a variety of local groups to diversify coalfield economies.
Representatives from the White House and a half-dozen agencies met with economic development officials from state agencies and with a long list of local and regional non-profit organizations for a briefing on President Obama’s proposal to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in coalfield aid as part of his 2016 budget recommendation to Congress.
Kent Spellman, executive director of the West Virginia Community Development Hub, said that coal’s decline is clearly having severe impacts, especially in Southern West Virginia.
“The loss of those coal jobs impacts every aspect of life in those communities,” Spellman said. “Reversing that spiral is going to take a collaborative approach.”
Spellman’s group and another organization, the Coalfield Development Corporation, organized Tuesday’s meeting with federal officials after Stephanie Tyree, community engagement and policy director for the Hub, attended a similar meeting in Kentucky, where local groups learned about federal help that was available and got advice on applying for such assistance…
“We are at a critical juncture,” Spellman said. “We have an opportunity. Let’s not blow it.”
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