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October 14, 2019 | Tom Ballard

Northeast TN does very well in latest round of ARC POWER grant awards

Northeast Tennessee was the big winner from the Volunteer State in the latest round of POWER initiative awards announced by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

Tennessee’s share of the $44.4 million awarded this month under the program to help expand and diversify the economy in Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities amounted to almost $5.1 million dollars. Of that amount, about 70 percent went to four projects in Northeast Tennessee.

Those projects are:

  • $1,566,927 to Northeast State Community College for the “Advancing Aviation Technology” project focused on building a reliable workforce pipeline of trained and certified aviation maintenance professionals in support of regional economic development priorities. It is a partnership with the Tri-Cities Airport.
  • $727,815 to East Tennessee State University that will partner with the Johnson City Development Authority and Create Appalachia to establish a micro-enterprise incubator and professional development center to support the launch and continued success of artists and makers working with digital technologies.
  • $862,017 o Holston Electric Cooperative in Rogersville for a project to install 25.9 miles of fiber optic cable on Holston Electric’s existing power poles and provide up to 1 Gbps service to areas not covered by a broadband or cable provider in the Goshen Valley area of Hawkins County.
  • $342,646 to Erwin Utilities for another broadband project, in this case the installation of 16.8 miles of fiber optic cable on existing power poles to provide high-speed capabilities to businesses and residential subscribers in areas of northern Unicoi County that are not covered by a broadband or cable provider.

The other two grants went to the greater Knoxville area.

  • $1,546,400 to the East Tennessee Development District for the “Workforce Development and Re-employment Opportunities” project designed to expand and enhance skills training opportunities in the high-demand fields of allied health, welding, industrial maintenance, construction, diesel repair, and truck driving in East Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.
  • $50,000 to Rockwood Electric Utility for a technology analysis and transition plan for a smart grid to support broadband service in parts of Roane, Morgan, and Cumberland Counties.

In its announcement, ARC said the awards under the POWER program, officially known as the “Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization” initiative, were earmarked for projects in Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. One third (more than $14.6 million) of these investments will develop business incubators, increase access to capital, and provide other services to advance entrepreneurship, while another roughly 30 percent (more than $13 million) will support broadband development and expansion in rural and/or underserved areas, and the balance – $8.3 million – will focus on workforce-to-recovery and other comprehensive strategies to strengthen the recovery ecosystem of grantees.

To read the full ARC announcement, click here.

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