The national Jobs Corps program has been providing critical training and development for young adults across the country for generations, helping them find jobs that benefit their families and communities. For example, within the last few years, Flatwoods center in Coeburn, Va. has earned numerous distinctions for the caliber of its programs and just recently wrapped up its first round of training for installing solar energy equipment.
But the Trump administration, through the U.S. Department of Labor, proposed in early June to shut down nine of these vital community facilities, including four in Appalachia — a major setback for the local, state, and federal efforts to provide new job opportunities in our region.
Due to overwhelming objections from citizens and from members of Congress representing many of these rural areas, the agency has pulled its plan, but has kept the public comment period open through July 1, and may revive some version of this bad proposal.
Speak out today to tell the Department of Labor to keep our Jobs Corps Centers open!
The four facilities slated for closure include the Flatwoods center in Coeburn, Virginia; the Frenchburg center in Frenchburg, Kentucky; the Oconaluftee center located in Cherokee, North Carolina; and Pine Knot center in Pine Knot, Kentucky.
As our communities work to build a new economy, the training and skills developed through the Job Corps centers are essential to helping young Appalachians prepare for jobs here at home. The Department of Labor’s closure of these important centers would be a harsh blow to our rural communities at a time when it should be doubling down on successful programs offered by these programs. In fact, the proposal has triggered bi-partisan opposition from both state and federal lawmakers.
Submit your comment today to ensure these important facilities remain open!
Tyler Hughes, Big Stone Gap Town Council member:
“It’s incredibly heartbreaking to hear that the Flatwoods Job Corps could be closed. They’ve been instrumental in maintaining the infrastructure needed for our new eco-tourism economy. The loss of the center will have a negative effect that will be felt by all of the communities in Wise County.”
Taysha DeVaughan, President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, and member of the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice:
“I find the proposed shutdown of the Flatwood Job Corps to be very disappointing. It impacts our community in Coeburn directly. This is a region that is already struggling economically compared to the rest of Virginia and this would be another financial blow to our communities in Wise County. Having a just transition from the decline of coal should include training for skilled type work or labor, and this high-performance center has been serving that exact type of training and job placement for almost a decade.”
Monty Salyer, Executive Director, Wise County Redevelopment & Housing Authority:
“I remember as a young boy, some 50 years ago, when the Flatwoods Job Corps came to Coeburn. The program was then and still is vital for so many young men and women without opportunity. In a time when we are expecting people to work for a fair wage, why would we kill a program that is designed to create working people, especially here in the coalfields of Virginia? As the director of the Wise County Redevelopment & Housing Authority, I have seen the overwhelming benefits of this program. Such a closing would have a ripple effect on so many businesses, individuals, and our communities in Wise County. This is a tragedy.”
Jack Kennedy, Wise County Circuit Court Clerk and civic leader:
“The job losses, the services utilized and the contribution trainees make to the Jefferson National Forest and other community-related projects will likely not be replaced for at least a generation. Closure will be one more blow to outward migration of our workforce, more stress on local economic conditions and a reduction in the county tax base. It will ultimately be one more blow to the very heart of the central Appalachian mountain economy.”