America’s energy landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, resulting in substantial economic impacts in Central Appalachia, which has historically been driven by the coal industry. The inevitable decline of the coal industry is causing hardship for many families in the region and serves as a wake-up call that now is the time to diversify our economy.
A window of opportunity has opened for Central Appalachia. Recognizing this, a growing number of local residents, elected officials, economic development leaders and institutions are making choices to move toward a new economy, and calling for policies and ways of thinking to carry the region into a future of economic resilience and shared prosperity.
Appalachian Voices is integrally involved in this challenge, bringing to bear the four key principles of community engagement, economic diversification, land restoration and growing the clean energy sector. Our New Economy for Appalachia program is based out of our Norton, Va., office in the heart of Southwest Virginia’s coal country.
We facilitate opportunities for residents from all walks of life and with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to become more engaged in sharing ideas and making decisions about their economic future. We hosted community visioning forums and built an online “wiki” site to provide citizens an opportunity to make their voices heard. In 2016, we participated in the University of Virginia College at Wise’s “Economic Forum of 2016,” a first-ever event of its scope, drawing hundreds of citizens, economic development experts and others.
While our efforts are focused in Southwest Virginia, we recognize that the movement for a just transition away from the coal economy is a regional one, and closely collaborate with partner groups working toward similar goals. Together with citizens, leaders and organizations across Central Appalachia, we are pressing for increased federal funding to help mountain communities diversify their economies by transforming previously mined lands into sites for sensible economic development, and working to bring investments in solar and other renewable energies to the region.
We’re partnering with a range of stakeholders to secure federal funds to help boost economic diversification efforts in the region. MORE
Repurposing abandoned coal mines for economic projects like solar facilities, outdoor recreation and sustainable agriculture holds tremendous promise for the region. MORE
Appalachian Voices is helping lead an effort to create a “roadmap” for establishing Southwest Virginia as a solar industry hub. MORE