WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced a $6,738,794 investment through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative to seven Ohio communities. The investment will help create and retain jobs, leverage millions of dollars in private investment, create and retain businesses, and train thousands of workers and students within the broadband, entrepreneurship, substance abuse recovery, tourism and other industry sectors across eastern Ohio communities. Those awards include:
- $2,500,000 to the Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative in Gallipolis, OH for the Southeast Ohio Broadband Backbone project. This grant will fund the installation of 168 miles of fiber to create a broadband network reaching unserved and underserved areas in six counties in Southeast Ohio.
- $1,496,585 ARC to Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, OH for the LIGHTS Inclusive (LIGHTS-INC) project. The project will build on the success of a previous POWER award, Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability (LIGHTS), expanding its geographic footprint and broadening its entrepreneurial training program by incorporating substance abuse recovery support.
- $1,235,727 to Rural Action Inc. in The Plains, OH for the Asset-based Entrepreneurship: Trails, Towns, and Tourism in the Appalachian Ohio Economy project. The project will help diversify and restructure the regional economy by investing in an emergent tourism sector that celebrates Appalachian Ohio’s natural, cultural, and entrepreneurial assets.
- $836,332 to Eastern Gateway Community College in Steubenville, OH for the TriState Gateway to Growth Training Center. The project will establish a training center to educate a competitive workforce for this region in advanced manufacturing.
- $618,150 to Washington State Community College in Marietta, OH for the Robotics & Manufacturing Technology Education Collaborative (RAMTEC). The project will expand RAMTEC—a training and workforce development program designed to educate workers in advanced manufacturing, automation, and robotics to the southern portion of Appalachian Ohio, the only region in the state currently not benefiting from it.
- $27,500 to the Trumbull County Planning Commission in Warren, OH for the Trumbull County Broadband Feasibility Study. The study will create the road map for the implementation of a fiber network throughout Trumbull County.
- $24,500 to Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc. (WECI) in Marietta, OH for a Broadband Feasibility Study. The study will assist WECI with decisions on whether to pursue deployment of broadband services within its member service territory of Athens, Guernsey, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, and Washington Counties.
“Ohio workers can compete with anyone in the world when given the opportunity,” said Brown. “If we want to promote economic development throughout Ohio, we need to ensure that business and households have broadband access. Rural communities have been overlooked for too long. We have an obligation to fight the so-called ‘digital divide’ between urban and rural communities – the future of our state depends on it. This new investment will help provide opportunities for communities across Ohio.”
POWER is a congressionally funded initiative that targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America's energy production. With today’s announcement, ARC has invested over $190 million in 239 projects touching 326 counties across Appalachia.
Brown has been a leader for Ohio’s rural communities, successfully securing a number of provisions that are important to Ohio farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill. He is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 50 years.