Catalyst Connection Receives ARC Grant to Continue Economic Growth within Coal Impacted Communities

News | Petra Mitchell| October 22, 2020

Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funding allows Catalyst Connection to recruit and place dislocated coal sector and COVID-19 workers into high demand manufacturing, robotics, and technology sector jobs.

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania: October 22, 2020—A grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will be used by Catalyst Connection, a private not-for-profit consulting organization, for their REAL Jobs for Energy and Advanced Manufacturing project. This project provides collaborative opportunities to bring together a broad sector of the population in the southwestern region of Pennsylvania including high school students on the cusp of a career, the unemployed and underemployed, incumbent workers and manufacturing employers.

Under the REAL Jobs project, high school and community college students will be recruited and introduced to creative manufacturing opportunities as well as a smartphone gaming application. They will be offered apprenticeship programs that focus on computer numerical control (CNC) technologies for automating machining tools, 3D printers, and other leading-edge technologies. Job seekers and incumbent workers will be offered virtual and in-person training programs in machining, welding, industrial maintenance, and next-generation manufacturing processes and technologies.

Catalyst Connection collaborates with trade associations for employer engagement, organizes company workshops, and connects the REAL Jobs recruitment and training activities to employer needs. Working closely with project partners such as BOTSIQ, Community College of Allegheny County, New Century Careers, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Academy, TEAM Consortium, and Workforce Development Boards, Catalyst Connection expects to implement the REAL Jobs initiative by directly engaging with small and medium-sized manufacturers. Catalyst Connection plans to share project resources through its web-based employer and engagement tool, “Making Your Future.” 

According to Petra Mitchell, President and CEO of Catalyst Connection, “Manufacturing is a vital industry to our future and provides high paying jobs with opportunity for advancement to the thousands of workers in our region. The REAL Jobs project not only helps job seekers pursue manufacturing careers, but it also helps workers enhance their existing skills.”

ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas congratulates Catalyst Connection for their POWER award, commending their community leadership saying, “POWER grants play a critical role in supporting coal-impacted communities in the Appalachian Region as they recover from COVID-19. They build and expand critical infrastructure and create new economic opportunities through innovative and transformative approaches.  Projects like this are getting Appalachia back to work.” 


About the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

The Appalachian Regional Commission ( is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia. To date, ARC has invested over $238 million in 293 projects, impacting 353 counties across Appalachia since 2015.

About Catalyst Connection

Catalyst Connection is a private not-for-profit organization headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We provide consulting and training services to small manufacturers in southwestern Pennsylvania, accelerating revenue growth, and improving productivity. Through active collaboration with our clients and the manufacturing community, we contribute to the growth, vibrancy, and ongoing robustness of manufacturing in our region.

Catalyst Connection is supported, in part, by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development, and by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership.