KEIP one of first AML pilot programs: Senator Jones says securing funds for access road 'vital'
MARION'S BRANCH — U.S. Congressman Harold "Hal" Rogers was joined by a number of state and local officials to break ground on one of the first Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) pilot programs in the country.
Congressman Rogers and others turned up dirt on the new Kentucky Enterprise Industrial Park during a ceremony held on August 3.
"The outlook is much better standing on this mountaintop where economic development and broadband connectivity are in the pipeline," Rogers said.
He has headed the AML pilot program in Washington since last year to boot reclamation and economic development in coal producing states that have been devastated by the decline of the coal industry.
"This is a game-changer for the region," he said.
Congressman Rogers secured a $5 million grant that will help construct a 50,000-square foot spec building, which includes 400 acres of available reclaimed land.
The park has also received $34.6 million in grants and loans for the property purchase, construction of a new road and bridge and new sewer, water and transmission lines.
State Senator Ray S. Jones II said the securing of funds during the 2018 budget session is vital to building an access road from Foggy Mountain on U.S. 23 to the new park.
"That would make this park a sure-fire winner in every way," Senator Jones said. "This is the crown jewel city of eastern Kentucky."
Senator Jones said the park has the potential to attract some new businesses.
Representative John Blanton said those who have labored to see the park become a reality are seeing the fruits of their hard work.
"The first building is soon to be built here with many others to come," Representative Blanton said. "As Senator Jones said earlier we must secure funding for a new road."
Congressman Rogers said Congress has approved $195 million for the AML pilot program, with Kentucky having received $55 million.
He added that thus far seven projects in eastern Kentucky have been awarded AML funding through the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement and the Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet.
As part of the AML grant, the conduit installation for high-speed broadband through the Kentucky Wired initiative will provide one-gigabyte service to the park.
"We have thousands of hardworking, laid-off coal miners who are waiting for a good job," Congressman Rogers added. "The work ethic of eastern Kentuckians is unmatched."
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