Federal government awards grant for Opportunity Zone project in Alabama
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) on Wednesday announced a $733,150 POWER grant has been approved for Opportunity Alabama, Inc., a nonprofit located in Birmingham. The federal grant will fund the Creating Opportunity for Alabama (COAL) Initiative, a project which is expected to yield 250 new Alabama jobs, create 25 new businesses and leverage $100 million in private investment.
The project will create an investment funding and business development ecosystem targeted to the federally designated Opportunity Zones in 36 coal-impacted counties in Alabama.
Opportunity Alabama will work with a team of local, state and national partners in a three-phased approach.
The first phase will work on building a local capacity to effectively prepare for and attract Opportunity Zone investments, focusing particularly on rural communities. The second phase will create a pipeline of investment opportunities to attract substantial private investment by facilitating demand studies, environmental assessments and construction cost estimates. The final phase will focus on developing and implementing an impact-investment data collection and analysis process to make it easier for investors to deploy their capital.
In addition to the federal ARC grant, Alabama Power Company and the Alabama Power Foundation are providing key private financial support to make the project possible.
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) lauded the news of the grant in separate statements.
“ARC’s decision to award this funding to Opportunity Alabama will help significantly boost private investment and business development throughout our state’s coal-impacted communities,” Shelby said. “I am proud this nonprofit initiative is working to help our local communities understand and capitalize on Opportunity Zones. These federal funds will facilitate an improved quality of life in Appalachian Alabama, creating hundreds of jobs and dozens of new businesses.”
Aderholt stated, “These resources represent a Congressional investment in rural America carried out by the great work of the Appalachian Regional Commission. These federal dollars, backed up by private investment, will mean real change and better lives for the men and women who have suffered the most in Alabama’s coal producing counties. I look forward to seeing the good these dollars do in the coming years.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn