Alabama to get federal grants for communities hit by coal industry layoffs


As one of the states hardest hit by coal industry layoffs, Alabama will receive a portion of $39 million in federal grants to help residents get back to work.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor announced a series of investments Wednesday for projects supporting coal communities.

WBRC reports that Shoals Entrepreneurial Center (SEC) in Florence will receive up to $1 million for an entrepreneurship program serving a nine-county area of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

According to the Shoals Entrepreneurial website, the center is a “business incubator” that works with startups and other up-and-coming businesses — offering space, equipment and resources in a cost-controlled environment. SEC partners with a wide range of organizations, including the USDA Rural Development, the University of North Alabama and Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments, to provide an economic impact of as much is $98 million in the local economy, generating almost $53 million in sales taxes.

Also on the list is the Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, which will receive $60,000 for a study on business development in coal communities.

In addition to Alabama, states to receive grant money include Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Some of the money will go to address key issues in the Appalachian coal communities, such as research on opioid abuse and the effects of HIV and hepatitis C, the expansion of broadband internet access for business development, and the effort to get international trade support for coal communities.


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