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Gov. Wolf Announces $1.5 Million in Funding Awarded to Indiana County to Strengthen and Diversify Economic Growth in Coal-Impacted Appalachian Region Communities

Governor Tom Wolf announced that a $1.5 million grant was awarded to Indiana County through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative.

“Pennsylvania’s coal-impacted communities have undoubtedly felt the impacts of energy production shifts in the economy and resources that support new job opportunities and broadband access are absolutely critical in ensuring these communities are not left behind,” said Gov. Wolf. “More than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and likely exacerbated the critical need for broadband access, the Indiana County Broadband Deployment Initiative project will advance the way of life for these communities, their neighboring communities, and visitors.”

The Indiana County Broadband Deployment Initiative project was awarded $1.5 million in funding and includes the deployment of over 100 miles of fiber optic cable and the establishment of eight wireless telecom sites, resulting in the capability to provide high-speed broadband access to approximately 825 households and 75 businesses in Indiana County. The county’s rural location and small population has made it difficult and unprofitable for internet service providers to offer service that reaches all of the area’s homes and businesses, and this proved increasingly problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the ARC funding, the project has received a local source of $1.5 million in funding. This project will improve broadband internet access throughout 12 Indiana County communities.

Each year through the POWER Initiative, the ARC offers competitive funding to 13 Appalachian states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia) for numerous projects in a wide range of program areas. The ARC’s focus for the 2020 POWER Initiative was investments that are regional, strategic, transformational, and that maximize economic revitalization.

The POWER Initiative targets federal resources to help communities and regions affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries. By encouraging economic diversity, enhancing job training and re-employment opportunities, creating jobs in existing and new industries, and attracting new investments, it supports efforts to create a more vibrant economic future for coal-impacted communities.

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