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Officials Tout POWER Initiative To Jumpstart E. Ky. Economies

Josh James

Hard hit Kentucky coal communities will be the target of up to $38 million in federal grants aimed at reviving local economies. It's all part of what’s being dubbed the “POWER Initiative.”

It was one of the rare Kentucky events where the words “coal” and “President Obama” weren’t part of a political stump speech.  

Representatives from a lengthy list of federal and state agencies gathered in Lexington Friday to outline a new push to retrain workers and re-equip communities transitioning away from the industry that has sustained them for decades. Governor Steve Beshear said working with the Obama administration on energy policy while coordinating workforce development efforts involves a balancing act.

"We're very aggressively defending our coal industry and our economy in Kentucky, but at the same time you know we need partnerships to get our people re-employed. We've got thousands of miners now that have been displaced," he said.

In related news for Eastern Kentucky, the USDA also announced a $1.8 million dollar loan for beverage startup Kentucky Dairy Product Innovations, a prime example of the kind of businesses officials hope to grow in the region. Spokesman George Clark.

"There has been no company in the Western hemisphere producing lactose-free milk and we're going to be the first. We're going to use milk only from Kentucky cows," he explained.

POWER Initiative grant applications could start as early as next month.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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