ACT Now Coalition Chosen as Finalist in EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge

The coalition will compete for up to $100 million to supercharge West Virginia’s economy.

Generation West Virginia and its partners in the ACT (Appalachian Climate Technology) Now Coalition have been selected as finalists in the Economic Development Administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge.  The ACT Now Coalition, which is led by Coalfield Development Corporation, has been chosen as one of 60 nationwide finalists for this funding opportunity.

This Coalition consists of more than 20 public and private partners working to expand emerging climate resilient sectors of the local economy. The Coalition includes the state’s two largest cities (City of Huntington and the City of Charleston) as well as its two largest universities (West Virginia University and Marshall University), and some of the most innovative community and economic development nonprofits in the state including the West Virginia Community Development Hub, Advantage Valley, The Nature Conservancy, and many others. More than 20 employers are supporting the coalition as well.

The coalition will advance to Phase 2 of the nationwide challenge and compete for up to $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to develop and scale climate resilient industries in central Appalachia. The Coalition’s proposal focuses on innovative economic diversification, community revitalization, job creation, and the establishment of a robust and vibrant growth sector.

“Generation West Virginia is proud to be a part of a coalition of amazing organizations from across the state, led by Coalfield Development Corporation,” said Alex Weld, executive director of Generation West Virginia. “We are honored that the U.S. EDA sees the potential of this vision, and we are eager to lead the workforce development component of this transformative proposal, because we know that the key to retaining young talent in West Virginia is good jobs.”

“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to supercharge local economies and increase American competitiveness around the globe,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The outpouring of interest in this program shows the demand for the Build Back Better agenda and the desire to not only create good-paying jobs, but also strengthen our country’s economic resiliency for years down the road.”

Phase 1 of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge invited coalitions to apply for funding to implement a collection of three to eight distinct but related projects in their region. Projects need to be in coordination with industry and community partners and aligned around a holistic vision to build and scale a strategic industry sector.

EDA received 529 applications from regions in all 50 states and five territories, and the 60 finalists represent regions that formed extraordinary coalitions, demonstrated regional needs, and presented bold proposals to grow their target industry clusters. Ranging from rural communities and coastal towns to major metros, the finalists make up a diverse cross-section of the United States.

“We are thrilled to help communities work together—in coalitions of government, nonprofits, academia, the private sector, and others—to craft ambitious and regionally unique plans to rebuild their communities,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “These projects will help revitalize local economies and tackle our biggest challenges related to climate change, manufacturing, supply chains and more. EDA is proud to ignite these plans and help communities nationwide build back better.

In Phase 2, finalists will compete for significant implementation assistance. EDA will award 20-30 coalitions each up to $100 million. These awards will assist communities in executing ambitious plans to supercharge their regional economies across a variety of strategic growth sectors.

About the American Rescue Plan Programs 

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is one of many EDA programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. Under the American Rescue Plan, EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks.

American Rescue Plan funding enables EDA to provide larger, more transformational investments across the nation while utilizing its greatest strengths, including flexible funding to support community-led economic development. With an emphasis on equity, EDA investments made under the

American Rescue Plan will directly benefit previously underserved communities impacted by COVID-19. For more information about EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs, visit EDA.gov/ARPA.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. For more information about EDA, visit EDA.gov.

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