WASHINGTON — New River Gorge Regional Development Authority in Beckley has been awarded a $708,300 grant  to promote business development, job creation, job retention and private investment in Southern West Virginia by expanding WV HIVE entrepreneur and business assistance programs.

The EDA grant project, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (https://www.irs.gov/tax-reform) designated Opportunity Zone (https://www.cdfifund.gov/Pages/Opportunity-Zones.aspx), will be matched with $177,367 in local funds, is expected to generate $3 million in private investment, and help create or retain 345 jobs.

The funding is from The U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration.

"Southern West Virginia has struggled with the decline of the coal sector and the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, and WV HIVE provides much needed economic stability," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming. "We are pleased to support the expansion of the WV HIVE program, and the Opportunity Zone designation will help attract new private investment to Southern West Virginia."

This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) program, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal through activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.

The funding goes to one of West Virginia's 55 Opportunity Zones.

Created by President Donald J. Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the idea was to spur economic development by giving tax incentives to investors in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority, which increased the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas.

To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Treasury Department resources page at (https://www.cdfifund.gov/Pages/Opportunity-Zones.aspx).

To learn more about the Commerce Department's work in Opportunity Zones, please visit EDA's Opportunity Zones webpage at (https://www.eda.gov/opportunity-zones/)

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