Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


August 9, 2012

Growing jobs

— — In this age of bipartisan gridlock and budget belt-tightening, federal funds are becoming increasingly difficult to find for needed projects across the region.

However, when federal funds are released for a worthwhile initiative such as The Southern West Virginia Rural Jobs Accelerator Partnership, the help should be welcomed.

Concord University is among the three West Virginia institutions of higher learning that will share in a $717,985 federal grant announced for the university-based jobs initiative last week by U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

The federal funds are coming from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the USDA under the Rural Jobs and Accelerator Grants program. The partnership includes Marshall University, the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing and the Concord University Research and Development Corporation.

The alliance brings private industry and university-based expertise and technology together as part of a multi-dimensional response that provides technical assistance, workforce development, entrepreneur support and a wealth of collaborated resources that aim to rejuvenate existing regional assets in the tourism and advance manufacturing clusters.

“I routinely talk with business people who have plans to improve or expand their businesses, but they simply need a little advice or help,” Rahall said last week. “Now three federal agencies, all sharing one mission, job creation, are going to focus on giving that help to our entrepreneurs, especially in manufacturing and rural tourism.”

We believe our region still has rich tourism potential that remains largely untapped, particularly now with the arrival of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails. And the manufacturing field is a growth area that is urgently needed for Mercer County.

The federal funding infusion for the Southern West Virginia Rural Jobs Partnership is welcomed. It is our hope that the university-based jobs initiative will go a long ways toward helping the greater southern West Virginia region.

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