Charleston Area Alliance and Partners Announce Grant Funding of the Charleston LIFT CenterFriday, September 2, 2022
East End Project to Receive $13 Million from the Build Back Better Regional Council
Charleston, West Virginia (September 2, 2022) – The Charleston Area Alliance and the City of Charleston, in partnership with the Appalachian Climate Technology (ACT) Now Coalition, today announced a $13M federal grant from the Build Back Better Regional Council (BBBRC) to develop the Learning, Innovation, Food & Technology Center (LIFT Center) on the East End of Charleston. The LIFT Center is one of eight proposed projects included in the total $62.8M BBBRC grant awarded to the ACT Now Coalition.
The LIFT Center, located at the Kanawha Manufacturing Plant, will rehabilitate 55,000 square feet of the existing building for multi-tenant use. The rest of 9-acre property will be available for future build-to-suit uses, providing the city and region with quality manufacturing and commercial space. Among the tenants and businesses who have committed to the LIFT Center and its 9-acre build-to-suit location, are the following initial users:
- The 10,000 sq. ft. Marshall Green Battery Institute will conduct cutting edge R&D on batteries for the transportation, energy storage, and eVTOL sector (electric Vertical TakeOff and Landing aircraft). The nation’s leading eVTOL company, BETA, has agreed to match BBBRC funding to build a new mesh network of electric aircraft charging stations around the state. Yeager Airport, which is host to the Marshall University Flight School, will be ready to train the first generation of eVTOL pilots.
- Parthian Batteries, a start-up incubated from West Virginia University with proven technology deployments already, will establish a new 13,000 sq. ft. production facility and HQ at LIFT Center to collect used Nissan Leaf electric batteries and use skilled technicians to repurpose them for electric cars, and for solar energy storage and clean vehicle charging on buildings (including at other ACT Now projects).
- The Dickinson Renewables and Edelen Renewables companies will have their workers trained at LIFT Center, for deployments of solar generation on abandoned coal mines and other key sites, including those developed through the “Sustainable Mine Lands” ACT Now component project. This Dickinson/Edelen enterprise will also include Plan Net Zero’s innovative carbon capture forestry techniques for mine land reclamation.
- The 10,000 sq. ft. East Edge Factory will be an earn-and-learn, registered apprentice, and job training center led by Coalfield to train the next generation of solar roofers, battery techs, construction workers, healthy food production workers, and other green sector workers. East Edge will deploy Coalfield’s proven workforce models 33-6-3 and WRAPS, and be supported by the “GROW Now” component of ACT Now.
- The 17,000 sq. ft. Charleston Food Manufacturing Hub will include a shared kitchen rental space with wraparound entrepreneurial services, co-packing food production and aggregation, cold storage, and docking space to meet growing needs for access to healthy local foods, and to boost small business entrepreneurial food endeavors and resiliency in the region. The Food Hub will also be able to process and distribute agribusiness produced from repurposed former mine lands, supported by the WVU Sustainable Mine Lands component project. The Food Hub will be managed by Coalfield’s affiliate enterprise ReFresh Appalachia, and include partners Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective, Vandalia Inc., the Charleston Capital Food Market, the Charleston Food & Farm Collaborative, and other food entrepreneurs who are backed by Advantage Valley through the GROW Now component project.
“The Charleston Area Alliance is incredibly proud to be part of this truly historic occasion,” said Nicole Christian, President & CEO, Charleston Area Alliance. “We are so excited to be part of the ACT Now Coalition and be selected as one of the projects for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. It proves that the leaders of these communities are committed to creating a bright future for West Virginia. Through the Alliance’s leadership on the LIFT Center project, the Charleston area will help to transform our traditional assets into tomorrow’s resources which will create the necessary tools and opportunities for our future.”
The LIFT Center will be a partnership of the Charleston Area Alliance, Coalfield Development Corporation, the City of Charleston, the WV Department of Economic Development, Marshall University’s School of Engineering & Computer Science, WV International Yeager Airport, and Advantage Valley.
“Thank you to Coalfield Development Corporation for leading the ACT Now Coalition, the City of Charleston and all of our partners who came together to make this initiative possible. This level of cooperation and ingenuity is what made us competitive and secured one of the 21 BBBRC grants,” said Christian. “We look forward to working together on ushering in a new era of economic opportunities for southern West Virginia.”
ABOUT THE ACT NOW COALITION
The non-profit Coalfield Development Corporation of West Virginia is joined with a robust coalition to develop North America’s premier climate resilience cluster in what used to be coal country. This coalition brings together innovative not-for-profit Coalfield Development Corporation with WV’s two largest cities Charleston and Huntington, its two leading academic institutions West Virginia University and Marshall University, the Nature Conservancy, WV International Yeager Airport, the WV Brownfields Assistance Center, and key economic development organizations like the Charleston Area Alliance, Advantage Valley, Generation West Virginia, the West Virginia Community Development Hub, Grow Ohio Valley, and a network of private sector businesses to diversify the regional economy with green technologies and a climate resilient workforce. ACT Now will scale proven WV approaches to green technologies and create a vibrant growth sector via solar manufacturing and installations, sustainable mine land reclamation and reuse, green buildings, food and agro-forestry, biobased products, outdoor recreation, workforce development, and community placemaking and resilience initiatives.
ABOUT BUILD BACK BETTER REGIONAL CHALLENGE
The U.S. Congress passed and President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March 2021, which provided $1 billion to the U.S. Economic Development Administration for a major economic development initiative. EDA launched the “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” competition, inviting regions from across America to put forward the most innovative ideas for economic renewal. From the 529 applications EDA received in October 2021, 60 finalists emerged in December 2021. Coalfield Development was pleased to be a challenge finalist, CEO Brandon Dennison went to the White House with top national leadership, and the ACT Now Coalition and the other finalists each received $500,000 grants to get their economic revitalization plans ready for implementation. In March 2022, the ACT Now Coalition submitted their proposals, and on September 2 the White House announced that WV’s Act Now had won.
The Charleston Area Alliance is a multi-faceted economic, business and community development organization as well as the largest regional Chamber of Commerce in West Virginia. The Alliance attracts and retains innovative industries and workforce, revitalizes urban spaces and improves Charleston, West Virginia and the Kanawha Valley through a unified mission and strategic goals. Learn more about Alliance programs and events at www.charlestonareaalliance.org.