Submitted by Pat Bussard, SWCC
Southwest Virginia Community College has launched a REDI Center (Retraining Energy Displaced Individuals Center for Displaced Coal Miners). The REDI Center assists laid-off coal miners and dislocated supply chain workers impacted by the downturn in the coal energy sector to receive retraining and educational opportunities to prepare them for successful re-entry into the workforce.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has provided a $38.8 million investment to grow the economy in the nation’s coal-impacted communities. The SWCC REDI Center is part of this initiative.
SWCC will receive $1.4 million from ARC, including tuition scholarship funds, to assist these workers in retraining for high-wage, high-demand careers. In addition to ARC, the Virginia Tobacco Commission, and a private foundation partner, are all contributing to the funding of the REDI Center. Spouses of laid-off miners may also be eligible for tuition scholarship assistance through this initiative.
“We would like to thank ARC for their support of the college through this grant,” said Dr. Mark Estepp, president of SWCC. “We have great respect for those who have worked in an industry that was traditionally at the core of our region’s economic success, coal mining,” he said. “The REDI Center will make possible a way for laid off coal miners to transition into other well-paying and viable jobs in and out of the area.”
“The Appalachian Regional Commission has invested significant funds to economic development in Southwest Virginia over the past 50 years,” said Phyllis Roberts, SWCC grants administrator. “We appreciate their continuing to support our coal-impacted communities with the POWER initiative.”
“SWCC has a proven track record of training and retraining the coal mining communities which it serves,” said Dr. Barbara Fuller, vice president of academic and student services. “There are few families in this region who have not been effected by layoffs and mine closings. SWCC stands ready to assist individuals with a variety of programs, many of which offer credentialing leading to high-wage, high-demand jobs.”
The REDI Center is now operational. Interested individuals who believe they qualify for assistance should contact SWCC at (276) 964-7818.
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