These are the counties covered by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Courtesy: ARC

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded more than $4 million in grants to projects in Virginia, according to a release from the governor’s office.

The funding will support workforce development, community revitalization and expanded health service efforts through economic development initiatives in the Appalachian region.  

The awards, as described by the governor’s office:

Food Sector Workforce Expansion in Central Appalachia | $1,500,000 

Appalachian Sustainable Development 

The Appalachian Sustainable Development, in partnership with ACEnet, Coalfield Development, Sprouting Farms, Rural Action and the Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council, will address challenges facing agricultural producers and food processors as they scale operations to reach wholesale markets. This project will create a transformative workforce ecosystem, overlaid on a strong food sector value chain, to create economic and social benefits in rural communities in Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, West Virginia and Southeast Ohio. Additionally, this project expects to serve 125 existing businesses, create 40 new businesses, serve 310 workers and trainees and create 53 new jobs. 

New River Water Trail Expansion Project | $1,500,000 

New River Valley Regional Commission  

The New River Valley Regional Commission will construct or improve four public launches along the New River Water Trail, as well as expand the New River Trail website, which connects the Water Trail to existing activities and businesses in the area. Additionally, the project will support a substantial volunteer effort and conduct ongoing river stewardship efforts that will maintain the river access points into the future. This project will serve the 15 communities along the New River, providing important visibility and connection between the New River Water Trail and regional tourism and attracting an estimated 1,500 new visitors each year. 

Dick and Willie Passage Trail 6A Completion | $665,000 

Henry County 

Henry County will complete the last mile of an existing 2.96-mile gap in the D&W trail, Virginia’s longest public trail, connecting neighborhoods to opportunities for shopping, dining, entertainment and the new Riverview park, as well as make improvements to the “Bike Barn,” a low-cost bike loan program that allows both visitors and residents to affordable bike the length of the trail. This project has been a longstanding regional goal, connecting to wider efforts both to promote Virginia’s regional trail system and to further foster Virginia tourism. 

Expansion of Dental Services for Central Appalachia | $500,000 

The Health Wagon 

The St. Mary’s Health Wagon will facilitate education and training of new dental professionals, as well as provide comprehensive oral health care services for individuals referred from the Health Wagon’s mobile services and stationary clinics. The project plans to support individuals impacted by the loss of coal jobs, lack of dental insurance, and others who have dental health issues that can cause barriers to employment. This project will create four jobs, improve the lives of 2,000 patients and improve six trainees through clinical workforce training over the course of one year.