Danielle Smith, Producer
Pennsylvania’s Appalachian region needs opportunities to bolster its economy, which will be the topic of a virtual summit in mid-January. The goal is to ignite Appalachia’s revitalization by bringing together key advocates for two days of strategic discussions.
Of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, 52 are nestled in Appalachia.
Dana Kuhnline, program director for ReImagine Appalachia, said the summit’s first-day theme is “Make it in Appalachia,” and what it will take to turn the Ohio River Valley into a hub for sustainable manufacturing.
“What can we manufacture in Appalachia?” Kuhnline outlined. “How can we reuse shuttered facilities, like closed steel facilities and shuttered coal plants? And what are sustainable products that Appalachia could become a hub for, that we could make in this region?”
She added manufacturing in the region would not only create good jobs and help build the local economy, it could help the state with its goal of curbing climate change. Manufacturing already contributes nearly 10% of jobs in Pennsylvania, employing more than 564,000 people.
Day Two of the summit will focus on federal funding opportunities, and how Appalachian communities can take advantage of them. Kuhnline pointed out Congress has passed a number of bills in the last couple of years, paving the way for new investments.
“There’s a lot of new money for land remediation — cleaning up old coal mines, cleaning up orphan oil and gas wells,” Kuhnline explained. “There’s going to be a whole funding stream set aside for improving environmental issues; that includes replacing lead pipes. There’s also money for increasing the number of trees and urban improvement projects.”
She noted the Inflation Reduction Act includes clean energy tax credits, with an emphasis on reaching disadvantaged populations and communities with environmental justice concerns. The ReImagine Appalachia Virtual Strategy Summit is Jan. 16 and 17 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET, both days.
This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.