The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced more than $3.7 million in National Dislocated Worker Grant funding to Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), Inc. to assist coal miners and their families affected by recent industry layoffs.
The release of funds, announced on Sept. 20 and totaling $3,724,200, will ensure the region’s dislocated miners and their spouses continue to have an array of employment services available, said EKCEP Executive Director Jeff Whitehead. This announcement will also enable current and new partnerships that focus on providing individuals with the best chance to obtain new employment.
“We are very appreciative of the Department of Labor for this funding and what it means for many dislocated workers in our service area,” Whitehead said. “This will be critical to ensure that opportunities remain available to those who most need them.”
The demand for retraining and employment services remains high in the region, Whitehead added. Since July 1, following the bankruptcy of multiple coal mining companies in Eastern Kentucky, more than 500 dislocated miners or their spouses have enrolled for federal workforce services. Of that total, 495 were directly affected as a result of the recent Blackjewel mining company bankruptcy.
“We see this need every day, and many thanks go out to our partners for their supportive efforts to address it, including those in business and industry, community and county leadership, and also to U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,” Whitehead said. “By forming strategic partnerships in the region we are able to increase our impact and implement new programs aimed at getting people back in the workforce and earning a living here in Eastern Kentucky.”
This latest round of funding represents the final installment of an $11 million federal grant awarded to EKCEP in Jan. 2017 to extend its Hiring Our Miners Everyday (HOME) initiative to support families impacted by layoffs in the region’s coal industry.
Since 2013, EKCEP has received more than $28 million in federal grant funding to assist laid-off miners and their spouses. In that time, this funding has assisted more than 4,200 individuals in Eastern Kentucky.
EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves the citizens of 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services and operates the Kentucky Career Center JobSight network of workforce centers, which provide access to more than a dozen state and federal programs that offer employment and training assistance for jobseekers and employers all under one roof. Learn more about us at http://www.ekcep.org,http://www.jobsight.organd http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.