Building Resilient Economies in Coal Communities
Revitalize and diversifying economies in coal communities
NACo's Building Resilient Economies in Coal Communities (BRECC) initiative serves coal communities seeking to revitalize and diversify their economies. Supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), BRECC is a knowledge-sharing community of practice. BRECC's activities connect coal communities across the nation, support local leaders and build capacity in under-resourced communities. As a result, BRECC will prepare communities to advance new approaches and projects for economic diversification.
BRECC is made up of four core activities:
- The BRECC National Network open to all local, state and national stakeholders focused on coal communities
- The Coal Communities Commitment Coalition, a leadership and peer-learning network where 20 local leaders gain knowledge and guidance on economic diversification strategies
- The Coal Communities Action Challenge, a technical assistance program where 15 coal communities will receive coaching and capacity-building support to develop an economic diversification plan, and
- A National Storytelling Campaign to share coal community experiences with a national audience.
BRECC Learning Series
The BRECC National Network will convene bi-monthly virtual learning sessions each featuring issue-specific presentations, peer breakout discussions, community case examples, and critical funding and resources available to coal communities. National Network sessions will cover topics including economic diversification and strategic planning, place-based economic revitalization, infrastructure investments, workforce solutions, entrepreneurial ecosystems and business development and sustainability and funding planning.
Join BRECC’s National Network Session and learn how Community Benefits Plans can help ensure new energy projects contribute to local and equitable prosperity.
Join the BRECC National Network to gain access to virtual learning sessions designed to help your coal community plan for a more resilient local economy.
This webinar outlined a Place Value framework for creating more diverse and resilient economies. Community Builders shared how their work in the West supports developing a unique and localized economic toolbox for communities facing coal transition.
This session presents the three pillars for coal community revitalization and highlights resources from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE).
Join the BRECC National Network for a conversation on outdoor recreation as a viable component to build a robust, diverse local economy.
The BRECC National Network is an open forum and peer network connecting coal community leaders representing local governments, regional organizations, community nonprofits, education and workforce providers, utilities, private business and other local stakeholders. The BRECC National Network will convene bi-monthly for virtual learning sessions featuring issue-specific presentations, peer breakout discussions, community case examples, and critical funding and resources available to coal communities.
All coal community stakeholders are welcome to join the BRECC National Network. To become part of the National Network, sign-up here.
NACo is excited to partner with the West Virginia Community Development Hub, Colorado-based Community Builders and Entreworks Consulting to provide meaningful technical assistance and educational training to coal communities.
BRECC programming will also be led by a cross-sector Advisory Council of government, business and nonprofit experts. The Advisory Council will ensure BRECC activities and resources reflect the pressing needs and emerging opportunities for coal community participants.
BRECC's Commitment Coalition
BRECC’s Commitment Coalition will build a peer network of 20 coal community leaders, who will deepen their knowledge of economic resilience through national subject matter experts as well as their counterparts’ community-based experiences. Selectees represent local, regional and state government entities as well as the nonprofit and private sectors. Over two years, the selected leaders will attend in-person site convenings and virtual workshops and share their experiences through BRECC’s national storytelling platform.
NACo proudly announces the following Commitment Coalition members and their corresponding coal community counties and states:
1. Stephen Allen, Liaison, South Lincoln County Economic Development Corporation, Lincoln County, Wyo.
2. Marcie Barlow, Community Development Director, Scioto County, Ohio
3. Stuart Clason, Regional Growth Director, Utah Association of Counties, counties of Carbon and Emery, Utah
4. Dr. Sandy Curd, Promise Zone Coordinator, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, USDA Rural Partners Network, counties of Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry and Whitley, Ky.
5. Jenna Draper, Economic Development Director, Six County Association of Governments, counties of Juab, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier and Wayne, Utah
6. Sharon Fain, Vice President, PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power, counties of Lincoln, Converse, Sweetwater and Campbell, Wyo. and Emery County, Utah
7. Cora Gnegy, Tourism Director, Giles County, Va.
8. Hon. Steve Henry, Judge/Executive, Webster County, Ky.
9. Hon. Marc Kiehna, Commissioner, Randolph County, Ill.
10. Carolea Mills, Deputy Judge/Executive and Economic Development Director, Martin County, Ky.
11. Hon. Dan Mosley, Judge/Executive, Harlan County, Ky.
12. Will Payne, Managing Partner of Coalfield Strategies, counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe, Va.
13. Councilperson Gabe Pena, Fayetteville Town Council, Fayetteville County, W.Va.
14. Hon. Greg Puckett, Commissioner, Mercer County, W.Va.
15. Renee Regel, Economic Development Coordinator, City of Becker, Minn.
16. Dr. Mark Sarver, Associate Professor of Business and Workforce Learning, Glenville State University, USDA Rural Partners Network, counties of Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Gilmer, Nicholas, Roane, Webster and Wirt, W.Va.
17. Hon. Tammy Tincher, Commissioner, Greenbrier County, W.Va.
18. Tina Toyne, Economic Development Director, Big Horn County, Mont.
19. Hon. Melody Villard, Commissioner, Moffat County, Colo.
20. Carla Vita, Director of Energy Transition, Minnesota Department of Economic Development, counties of Chippewa, Otter Trail, St. Louis, Cook, Sherburne, Itasca and Washington, Minn.
What will Coalition leaders do?
Selected leaders will participate in:
- Travel to four peer exchange site visits hosted by a Coalition community and designed to highlight successful programs and projects for economic diversification
- A monthly virtual learning series with subject matter experts featuring strategies for recovery from coal's decline, including topics on investing and funding streams, workforce training, economic planning opportunities, community development strategies, broadband project management, federal agency resources, automation and employment and COVID-19 recovery
- Peer exchanges where leaders will be paired with a community from a different region to share advice and generate new ideas
- Public engagement activities to share learning and strategies with home communities
- A storytelling campaign to share local experiences and initiatives with a national audiences, including a blog post on the application of key concepts
- Cross-network integration mixers where leaders will have the opportunity to connect with other communities engaged in economic diversification efforts, such as textile communities
- The broader BRECC National Network virtual convenings with local, regional, state and federal coal community stakeholders, and
- In-person workshops at the BRECC Summit taking place at the end of the program period
Benefits of the Coalition
Selected leaders will:
- Gain an increased understanding of economic diversification strategies within coal communities and methods for local implementation
- Discover new economic development projects, resources and approaches for replication within their community
- Build relationships with and learn from coal community leaders across U.S. regions, and
- Connect and share resources through the broader BRECC National Network's virtual convenings with local, regional, state and federal coal community stakeholders.
BRECC's Action Challenge
BRECC's Coal Communities Action Challenge is a technical assistance program that will empower local leaders to identify and advance projects for economic revitalization and diversification. The Action Challenge will connect community teams with economic development experts from NACo’s BRECC partners the West Virginia Community Development Hub, EntreWorks Consulting and Community Builders. For one year, the selected teams will receive one-on-one coaching to develop a locally-driven economic diversification strategy that empowers participating communities to identify and advance projects for economic revitalization. Eight community teams were competitively selected to participate in Cohort 1 of the Action Challenge. Applications for Cohort 2 will open in Fall 2023.
NACo proudly announces the following community teams participating in the first Cohort of BRECC’s Action Challenge:
Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, Va.: In southwestern Virginia, the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission is a regional Economic Development District serving the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell. With a regional approach, this team seeks to grow economic resilience through entrepreneurship and business development strategies.
City of Richwood, Nicolas County, W.Va.: In central West Virginia, the City of Richwood is experiencing population loss tied to the decline of the local coal industry. Building on natural assets, this team looks to expand its outdoor recreation economy with a special focus on a local trail network.
Counties of Apache, Coconino and Navajo, Ariz.: In Northern Arizona, the counties of Apache, Coconino and Navajo face the closure and decommissioning of several coal-fired power plants. Collaborating across county borders, this team will coordinate planning to create a complimentary, shared strategy for economic diversification.
Floyd County, Ky.: In eastern Kentucky, Floyd County has seen a decline in coal production over the past three decades and recent flooding has exacerbated economic hardships. Led by a newly created long-term recovery group, this team will pursue opportunities in outdoor and cultural tourism as well as residential attraction.
Pike County, Ind.: In southwestern Indiana, Pike County’s employment and tax base are closely tied to a coal-fired plant slated to be decommissioned. This team will create a local strategy around business attraction and workforce retention goals.
Perry County, Ohio: Perry County is facing the impact of its last two mines closing. This team will advance planning for placemaking economic development strategies.
Northwest Colorado Development Council, Colo.: In Northwest Colorado, the Northwest Colorado Development Council serves the counties of Rio Blanco, Moffat and Routt, which faces the impending closure of two coal-fired power plants. In partnership with a regional community college, this team will expand on strategies for advancing clean energy initiatives.
San Juan County, N.M.: In northwest New Mexico, San Juan County is experiencing the closure of one coal-fired power plant and faces the impending closure of another. In partnership with Four Corners Economic Development, this team will advance strategies for workforce redevelopment and business expansion.
What will Action Challenge teams do?
Selected teams will:
- A quarterly virtual learning series with all selected community teams from across the country, which feature subject matters experts on the strategies and principles of economic diversification, including topics such as access to housing and education, workforce retraining, rural industries, and multi-sector planning and investment funding resources
- One-on-one coaching with an economic development experts from the BRECC program partners over a 12-month period
- Technical planning assistance that results in a community action plan for economic diversification
- Identification of potential economic development projects eligible for federal support
- Peer mentoring activities where teams will be intentionally paired with another community to share ideas and implementation advice, and
- A capstone at the end of the 12-month cohort where teams will present action plans and receive feedback and support from peers and Advisory Council members.
Place value framework emphasizes asset based economic development that leverages and enhances local place-based assets, amenities and resources.
Participants announced to receive specialized technical assistance through NACo’s Building Resilient Economies in Coal Communities Initiative
NACo announces the final selection of communities and local leaders to participate in the Building Resilient Economies in Coal Communities (BRECC) initiative.
Sign Up for the BRECC National Network
To become part of the National Network and receive updates on all BRECC programming, sign up usin the form.
BRECC is operated by the National Association of Counties using federal funds under award ED22HDQ3070080 from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.
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