A New Economy for Appalachia


For the past several years, the historically coal-driven economy of Central Appalachia has suffered heavy loss of employment and coal production due to a variety of factors. 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’s coal-bearing counties.

A growing number of local residents, elected officials, economic development leaders and institutions are recognizing that new policies and ways of thinking are needed to carry the region into a future of economic resilience and shared prosperity.

Adam Wells, the Economic Diversification Campaign Coordinator for Appalachian Voices, is a 5th generation Wise County citizen. Photo by Trip Jennings.

Adam Wells, Appalachian Voices’ New Economy Program Manager, is a fifth-generation Wise County citizen. Photo by Trip Jennings.

Appalachian Voices is integrally involved in this effort. Our Economic Diversification program is based out of our Norton, Va., office in the heart of Southwest Virginia’s coal country. While our efforts are focused on this region of Appalachia, we recognize that the movement for a just transition away from the coal economy is a regional one, and we communicate and collaborate with partner groups working toward similar goals.

Our goals are based on community engagement, economic diversification, clean energy growth, and land restoration.

Southwest Virginia’s New Economy

As part of our effort to help build momentum for economic diversification across Southwest Virginia, Appalachian Voices hosted a series of community forums in October 2015 to seek citizen input and inspiration to grow a new economy and lift up these ideas to local, state and federal decision makers.
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The POWER+ Plan

We are advocating for implementation of the POWER+ Plan, a component of the White House’s proposed 2016 federal budget that would bring millions of dollars to Appalachia for a host of new economic development opportunities.
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Healing the Land

We strongly support the use of federal funds to help communities transform abandoned mine lands and other industrial “brownfields” in Central Appalachia into sites for sensible economic development, such as sustainable agriculture and forestry, advanced manufacturing facilities and public parks.
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