AP / David Goldman

Re:CAP Recommends | In Life After Coal, Appalachia Attempts to Reinvent Itself

December 2, 2016

Re:CAP Recommends In Life After Coal, Appalachia Attempts to Reinvent Itself by Alan Greenblat for Governing

WhoAlan Greenblat is a Staff Writer at Governing who covers policy and politics. He is the coauthor of a standard textbook on state and local governments. He previously worked as a reporter for NPR and CQ and has written about politics and culture for many other outlets, print and online.

What: Communities traditionally reliant on a successful coal industry must now look for solutions to a grim economic forecast. Despite Presdident-Elect Trump's pro-coal stance, electric companies may still phase it out. What are communities doing to tackle this issue? What solutions have proven to be successful?

Takeaway: Diversification of economic activity may be the key to a more prosperous Appalachia. The author cites Houston, a community severely impacted by low oil prices in the 1980's, for its increased economic resilience following diversification efforts. While there may be policy implications on a state to national level, the vast majority of effort required to make such a change happens on the local level. Progress for local diversification can feel painfully slow - a single new project may employ dozens while hundreds are out of work - but Harlan County, Kentucky Development Director Larry Calhoun points out that "if you don't start, you can't finish". 

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