WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $4 million grant to the Estill County Board of Education in Irvine, Kentucky, to help build an Area Technical Center (ATC) educational building. The project, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $4.7 million in state investment, and is expected to help create more than 500 jobs, retain 450 jobs, and generate $19.4 million in private investment.

Congressman Andy Barr has been a staunch supporter of Estill County’s grant application.

“The Estill County Board of Education and local officials have worked diligently to make the Area Technology Center a reality, bringing to the Sixth District a facility that will provide enhanced training opportunities in a high-need area while helping displaced coal workers learn new, highly sought after skills,” said Congressman Andy Barr. “I applaud the Trump Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce for their diligent work in funding programs like this one to help match skilled workers with the needs of our region’s industries.”

“The Trump Administration is working diligently to provide American workers with tailored and relevant training,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The new Area Technology Center, which will be located in an Opportunity Zone, will provide the training needed to develop highly skilled workers that can support the region’s industries.”

This investment will help build a new 40,000 square foot ATC educational building for Estill County Schools. Collaborating with a regional technical college, the ATC will offer support and education to highly skilled workers that includes advanced manufacturing, health sciences, information technology, diesel technology, and other technical education for adults.

“The Estill County Board of Education and the entire Engineer Family want to thank Congressman Barr and Sen. Mitch McConnell for their steadfast support of the Estill County Area Technology Center,” said Estill Co. Schools Superintendent Jeff Saylor. “Both of these gentlemen and their staffs have worked tirelessly during this process because they understand that high quality career and technical education programs are vital to the economic development of our region. This facility will provide opportunities for secondary students, as well as adult learners and displaced workers. They will receive high-quality training in areas deemed by the Workforce Development Cabinet as high wage/high demand job opportunities in Central and Eastern Kentucky.”

This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) program, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal through activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.

The funding announced today goes to a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, which provides special incentives for further private sector participation and development. Created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zone designations spur economic development by giving tax incentives to investors in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority. By implementing this new Investment Priority, the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund will be increased to spur greater public investment in these areas. To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Treasury Department resources page here. To learn more about the Commerce Department’s work in Opportunity Zones, read our blog post.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.