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Contact: John Atwood (EDA), (202) 482-4085
Louis Segesvary (ARC), (202) 884-7771
Wednesday, September 4, 2013

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $2 Million to Support Critical Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Efforts in Kentucky

U.S. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers Applauds Investments to Train Workers and Protect

WASHINGTON — U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine today announced $2 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) investments to support critical disaster recovery and resiliency efforts in Kentucky following several natural disasters. Deputy Assistant Erskine made the announcement at an event with U.S. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky.

“It is imperative that communities rebuild smarter and stronger in the aftermath of natural disasters,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Erskine. “The EDA grants announced today will help establish a new Nursing and Health Sciences facility at Union College to train workers for jobs in the region’s growing health care sector. The investments will also help businesses in West Liberty’s central business district thrive through efforts that make them easier to access.”

“When our rural communities face natural disasters, they need financial support to rebuild, which secures the hope of a full recovery,” said Rogers. “These EDA grants go a step further, helping us prepare for a greater healthcare workforce and address infrastructure improvement needs. I commend the EDA for supporting these efforts in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”

The $2 million in EDA investments announced today include:

  • $1.5 million to Union College of Barbourville, Kentucky, to renovate an existing building for use as a Nursing and Health Sciences facility. The new facility will help train a workforce to serve the growing health care sector in the counties of Bell, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Rockcastle and Whitley, as well as other regions of Kentucky.

  • The immediate eight-county region and other counties in East Kentucky served by Union College were severely impacted by natural disasters in 2011 that included tornadoes and flooding. These events primarily impacted small businesses, many of which were unable to reopen or forced to relocate.

  • $500,000 to the city of West Liberty, Kentucky, for the acquisition of land and the construction of parking lots and a park and walkways that will facilitate pedestrian access to the downtown business district.

  • The city of West Liberty's downtown business center was devastated by severe flooding in May 2011. Recovery efforts were subsequently hampered by an EF3 tornado in March 2012. In response, the city developed a master plan for downtown redevelopment, incorporating flood mitigation elements into the rebuilding of the district. This EDA investment will help build new access routes and parking areas outside the flood plain for businesses located in the downtown area.

These projects are part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support.

Within the context of the administration’s National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) (PDF), EDA serves as the Coordinating Agency on behalf of the Department of Commerce for the Economic Recovery Support Function (RSF) to coordinate the activities of a diverse group of partner agencies supporting recovery in disaster-impacted communities. The activities consist primarily of improved information sharing and the leveraging of existing resources to make a positive impact for communities affected by disasters.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
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 makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.