Monday, October 20, 2014

West Virginia follows Kentucky's lead, forms group to reshape Appalachian economy

West Virginia Sen. Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) announced last week that he has formed a group called called Southern Coalfields Organizing and Revitalizing the Economy (SCORE) to look into ways to diversify and revitalize the struggling economy in Southern West Virginia, Ken Ward reports for the Charleston Gazette.

Last year Kentucky Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers, a Republican from Eastern Kentucky, joined forces to launch Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), an effort to stimulate the economy of Eastern Kentucky, which includes some of the nation's poorest counties. The group has since held meetings in search of ways to improve and diversify the economy of Appalachian Kentucky.

The West Virginia effort will be similar to the one in Kentucky, Ward writes. SCORE will focus on looking into ways to "increase funding for tourism advertising and development; education and workforce development and retraining initiatives; dedicating monies for viable redevelopment projects; agribusiness and rural development opportunities; increase Broadband access; expanding and supporting intermodal transportation; explore development of coalbed methane reserves; and support clean coal research and development."

Kessler told Ward, “Southern West Virginia has become a region stricken with a lack of opportunity and hope. It’s time to change our way of thinking so that it can once again become a region that offers our children and grandchildren opportunities for a better future. It is not impossible to envision a renewed Southern West Virginia.” (Read more)

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