Feds help coal-mining regions with jobs, training

By Joe Napsha, Trib Live

The federal government is aiding Pennsylvania’s coal-mining regions that were severely impacted by the decline in the industry by providing more than $3.2 million in aid for job training, economic diversification and helping spur start-up companies to create jobs, the Department of Commerce said Wednesday.

The money funneled through the Economic Development Administration is part of a $30 million aid package to support 35 projects in 15 states under the 2017 Assistance to Coal Communities initiative.

The United Mine Workers of America’s Career Centers Inc. in Prosperity was awarded $1.7 million to support the renovation of its training facility to provide advanced manufacturing, cyber security training and CDL training and to help build a commercial driver’s license training facility on a 64-acre site in Greene County.

A spokesman for the UMWA career center could not be reached for comment.

Catalyst Connection in Pittsburgh, which provides training and consulting services to small manufacturers, was awarded $510,000 to support the Maker-to-Manufacturing (M2M) project to integrate as well as expand entrepreneurial services and resources in the southwestern Pennsylvania.

Catalyst Connection estimated that the project will support more than 100 start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses in the next five years.

It is expected result in more than 50 entities making progress toward commercializing their product and would leverage more than $10 million in new investments in these innovations. Catalyst Connection projects it will create or save more than 350 jobs.

Gannon University in Erie was awarded $1 million to provide assistance to entrepreneurs in Northwest Pennsylvania through Innovation Beehive nodes at Gannon University, Penn State-Behrend, Edinboro University and Mercyhurst University. That initiative is focused on business development, prototyping, marketing and market intelligence, the Commerce Department said.

The state will get $77,700 to develop a coordinated strategy that will target six regions for deeper collaboration with the petrochemical and plastics industries, and their supply chains to facilitate investment and job creation.