The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing to discuss the oversight of the Economic Development Administration (EDA). One part of the hearing touched on the EDA's commitment to coal communities looking to strengthen their economies.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, who chairs the Senate committee, lauded the EDA for supporting projects in Wyoming.
Last year, EDA provided funds for the Gillette-based Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center, which aims to help researchers and entrepreneurs take technology and products to a full commercial stage.
Barrasso said the project will be important for the area and the energy industry.
"Coal to products technology is an emerging industry and it could mean many new markets for coal," he said.
In December, Barrasso, along with fellow Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi and others, introduced a bill focused on providing federal government support for coal-to-products technology research and development.
Barrasso said he was also pleased the EDA has supported community colleges in Wyoming both in and out of the energy industry.
"In 2019, the agency provided $3 million to Central Wyoming College to build a new agriculture training facility. The new 85,000 square feet facility is going to provide hands-on training to Wyoming students," he said.
That grant targeted what the EDA calls an "Opportunity Zone," which is an area that's meant "to stimulate economic development and job creation, by incentivizing long- term investments in low-income neighborhoods." The program was created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Additionally, Gillette College received an EDA grant that will go to upgrading science labs. Those labs support classes that are a part of curriculums for nursing and welding programs.
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