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The Center for Rural Development has been awarded $300,000 in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funding for the Coal Impacted Skills Training (CIST) Program to provide training opportunities for displaced, unemployed, and underemployed individuals in 35 Kentucky counties impacted by the decline of the coal industry and COVID-19.

The grant funding was announced on Monday by Gov. Andy Beshear in conjunction with a $3,690,902 million investment in ARC grants to fund seven projects in Eastern Kentucky communities that will update infrastructure, bolster education, spur economic development, improve health care, and build a better Kentucky.

The CIST Program, administered by The Center for Rural Development in partnership with ARC and the Department for Local Government, will help individuals who have suffered job loss obtain training in order to better compete in the current job market and to assist businesses with employee training as a way to retain employees and enhance the skill sets of employees.

Training opportunities will include essential work skills, help desk customer service, and specialized workforce training, like allied health, commercial trucking, and additive manufacturing. The program is expected to train 260 workers and provide a more ready workforce in growing communities.

“On behalf of our board and staff, we would like to thank the Appalachian Regional Commission, Commissioner Keene and the Department for Local Government for the Coal Impacted Skills Training award The Center just received,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center for Rural Development. “This award will allow us to increase education, knowledge, skills, and the health of our residents, enabling them to work and succeed in Appalachia.”

Kentucky counties in The Center for Rural Development’s primary service area that have been identified by ARC as distressed counties for fiscal year 2019 and will be served through the CIST Program include: Adair, Bath, Bell, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clay, Clinton, Elliott, Estill, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary, Menifee, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Wayne, Whitley, and Wolfe.

 For more information or to apply for funding assistance, call 606-677-6000 or email