BECKLEY, W.Va. — An apple farm in Clay County, a fish farm in Mingo County and a Humvee repair site in Raleigh County–all projects that will receive millions of dollars of federal funding to convert former mine land into new jobs.
Third District Congressman Evan Jenkins helped secure the $25 million in federal funding for those projects and a few others.
“This is not a trade off–nobody is giving up on coal, but we also want to create job opportunities for our unemployed,” Jenkins told MetroNews Thursday in between stops where he was announcing the projects.
The five redevelopment projects are located on abandoned mine lands in Fayette, Mingo, Nicholas and Raleigh counties.
“This will help jumpstart and bring those employment opportunities to reality,” Jenkins said. “We have more federal funds coming.”
Jenkins said he knows the dozens of jobs created by the projects won’t match the thousands lost in the coal industry in recent years but diversification is good for the state’s economy.
“Let’s support coal but let’s also support new innovative jobs for the future. So we can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins’ office released the following information about the projects:
Sullivan Industrial Park Project, $12 million, Raleigh County
The Sullivan Industrial Park is conveniently located at the intersection of Interstates 64 and 77 in Beckley and is a joint project between the West Virginia National Guard and the Beaver Coal Company. The first tenant would be the National Guard, which would conduct Humvee and other equipment repair at the site. Rep. Jenkins visited the Sullivan Industrial Park site earlier this year.
Patriot Guardens Golden Delicious Apple Project, approximately $5.3 million, Clay and Nicholas counties
This project will plant 100,000 apple trees on 500 acres in Clay and Nicholas counties – Clay County is the home of the golden delicious apple. The Patriot Guardens project will employ displaced coal miners and veterans, promote local agriculture, and celebrate the state’s heritage. It is a collaboration among the West Virginia National Guard, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Special Reclamation and Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation, West Virginia State University Extension Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, ERP Compliant Fuels and Pardee Natural Resources.
Highland Mountain and Crickmer Road waterline extension projects: $4.1 million, Fayette County
These two projects, served by the Danese Public Service District, will expand municipal water service to 43 new customers. Access to city water service is critical for business and agricultural development, as well as promoting public health.
Aquaponics on AML Project, nearly $3.6 million, Mingo County
This project will build an aquaponics farm in Kermit, allowing them to grow sustainable, commercial quantities of fish and vegetables. The project’s goal is to grow sustainable food while employing displaced workers. It is a collaboration among the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, Coalfield Development Corporation and Refresh Appalachia.