MANCHESTER, Ky. — State and federal officials unveiled a $7.95 million 1 Clay County plan Monday, a package of new investments that will spur economic development in Clay County.
The “1 Clay County” initiative feature unprecedented and coordinated investment by the federal and state government in projects focused on developing downtown Manchester and the surrounding area, attract new businesses and encourage growth.
The funding represents a coordinated federal, state and private partnership directed toward job creation and economic stimulus and a bipartisan effort to invest more in Southeastern Kentucky. Projects, including Volunteers of America Mid-States’ investment in transitional housing for individuals in recovery and renovating downtown buildings, have begun or will begin soon.
“Together, we’ve already accomplished so much here in the Clay County region, but I know 1 Clay County is a blueprint for a truly new day for Manchester and the entire region. We can’t wait to make real change and put these plans in action,” said Jennifer Hancock, president/CEO of VOA.
The “1 Clay County” announcement follows a series of announcements about new investments and initiatives in the past year. The Downtown Manchester Economic Development project, which is a collaboration among VOA, AdventHealth Manchester and other community-based Clay County organizations, will create a cornerstone development for downtown Manchester revitalization through the rehabilitation of an 8,600-s.f. building at 200 Main St.
Manchester Farm Here is an innovative partnership between Volunteers of America Mid-States (VOAMID), AppHarvest, Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) and the City of Manchester. The project will feature AppHarvest’s leadership to place two retrofitted shipping container farm units in Y Hollow, an up-and-coming Manchester tourist destination located in an historic coal mine load-out site.
Gov. Andy Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers, Senate President Robert Stivers, Rep. Derek Lewis, Eastern Kentucky University President Dr. David McFaddin and VOA’s Hancock provided details at an announcement event in Manchester.
“1 Clay County is the result you get when people who truly care about their community come together,” said Stivers, R-Manchester. “This is about creating jobs in an atmosphere that lifts individuals up, often times when they are at their lowest, and surrounds them with people who want to invest in them. This is also about building the infrastructure for local businesses to thrive and will make 1 Clay County a draw from all over the region.”
Rogers announced $2.2 million in funding for the development of a farmer’s marketplace and for streetscaping and landscaping in downtown Manchester. Governor Beshear and Senate President Stivers detailed $4.25 in funding targeted toward housing, new business creation, redeveloping Bridge Street and supporting and expanding Volunteers of America investments in the region.
“I was proud to secure a $2.2 million federal earmark for the new Downtown Manchester Market Place, earlier this year. This comprehensive project is a great example of how we are revitalizing the City of Manchester from every angle with local, state and federal collaboration,” said Rogers, Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives, who was first elected in 1980. “It is exciting to see the larger vision coming to fruition in 1 Clay County Eastern Kentucky, with beautiful new venues that spur new jobs and opportunities in our rural region. Our best days are ahead of us.”
Volunteers of America has also been awarded $1.5 million for the Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities federal grant. The program is already working to move SEKY residents in recovery from substance use disorder into the workforce. VOA employs full-time workforce development professionals to identify employment candidates and provide training, mentoring, career planning and case management services. VOA is also identifying employers and connecting them to qualified, well-trained candidates.
Volunteers of America Mid-States operates more than 40 programs across Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Clark and Floyd Counties in Indiana. VOA serves families overcoming homelessness, veterans in need of housing and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and many other individuals and families in need. Learn more at @voamid and www.voamid.org.