PORTSMOUTH – Shawnee State University was awarded $1.5 million by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to expand entrepreneurial training and partnerships with substance abuse recovery networks across Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. The project, “LIGHTS Inclusive,” builds upon the success of a previous award to the LIGHTS (Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability) Regional Innovation Network that provides entrepreneurial assistance to startups and makerspaces through innovation gateways like the SSU Kricker Innovation Hub. The project is expected to create 133 jobs and 49 new businesses, improving economic opportunities in 38 communities.
“This is tremendous news for our region and our partners,” SSU President Jeff Bauer said. “We have built a strong foundation for entrepreneurship and job creation through partnerships, workshops, resources, and training through the Kricker Innovation Hub. This award allows us to further strengthen our efforts by partnering with experts in substance abuse treatment to support those recovering from addiction and remove barriers that keep entrepreneurs from accessing resources.”
Today’s announcement is one of 54 investments totaling $44.4 million via ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, a congressionally funded opportunity targeting federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production. Additional support for the “LIGHTS Inclusive” project totals $1.6 million in private investments.
“We’re a leader in regional entrepreneurship,” David Kilroy, program director for the Kricker Innovation Hub said. “We intend to establish the best practice for creating an inclusive entrepreneurship environment that supports economic growth in communities that have been impacted by substance abuse.”
Shawnee State, as part of the LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network, is partnering with Hocking College, Ohio University, the Washington County Career Center, and the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at Marshall University on the project.
“I congratulate Shawnee State University for being an FY 2019 POWER grantee, and commend them on the leadership they have shown in their community,” said ARC Federal CoChairman Tim Thomas. “POWER grants are playing a critical role in supporting coal-impacted communities in the Appalachian Region as they diversify economies, invest in growth-oriented infrastructure, train a next-generation workforce, and ingrain resiliency and hope into their local fabric. Projects like this help ensure a prosperous future for Appalachia.”
The Appalachia Regional Commission (www.arc.gov) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.
For more information about programs, resources, and workshops through the SSU Kricker Innovation Hub, visit ssuinnovation.com.