Va. City First Locality Nationwide to Support POWER+

Adam Wells, Economic Diversification Campaign Coordinator, Appalachian Voices, 276-679-1691,

Norton City Council voted unanimously yesterday evening in favor of a resolution supporting a federal budget proposal to steer billions of dollars for economic development and diversification to Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities, including those in Virginia. It’s the first such local resolution of support in the nation for the “POWER+ Plan” proposed earlier this year by the White House.

The city’s resolution also urges U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Congressman Morgan Griffith (9th District, Va.) to support “any plan that targets redevelopment funding opportunities for our region.”

The POWER+ Plan creates new funding and bolsters existing federal programs designed to diversify the economy in areas that have relied heavily on coal, and have seen job losses as a result of the contracting coal economy in recent years.

Environmental groups across Appalachia have been promoting the plan, which would fund job retraining and infrastructure investments, as well as direct new funding to clean up abandoned mines.

“We are excited to see this resolution passed with unanimous support from the Norton City Council,” said Adam Wells of Appalachian Voices, which championed the resolution. “The city just took an important, forward-looking leadership position in the effort to diversify the region’s economy and create a healthier, more sustainable future. I commend the members of the council for leading the way.”

Text of the resolution:

WHEREAS: The POWER+ Plan is a component within the 2016 federal budget proposed by President Obama; and

WHEREAS: The POWER+ Plan, if approved by Congress, would authorize billions of dollars in federal programs targeted to improve the economy of the Appalachian Coalfields, including the economies of Southwest Virginia and the City of Norton; and

WHEREAS: The Plan specifically includes increased funding for the Abandoned Mined Land Fund, Appalachian Regional Commission, and the United Mine Workers of America Health and Pension Plan; and

WHEREAS: The City of Norton desires to invest resources to adapt to new economic circumstances facing our region and the increased federal funding targeting our region that would help to leverage local efforts;

NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED THAT the City of Norton supports any initiative, such as the proposed increased funding noted above as included in POWER+ Plan, and that the City encourages Senators Kaine and Warner and Congressman Griffith to support any plan that targets redevelopment funding opportunities for our region.