Southwest Virginia has seen the ravages of the opioid epidemic. It hit just as the coal industry took a nosedive.
Now, a new federal program is aimed at both of those problems.
The Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board in Lebanon will get $1.5 million in new federal money to help people in the region recover from opioid abuse while also learning job skills for an economy that’s not based on coal.
Amanda Love at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development says having a healthy workforce is vital to economic development. “It will create a recovery to employment ecosystem that really focuses on substance abuse disorder recovery and treatment and then working with workforce development and reemployment opportunities,” Love says.
John Provo at Virginia Tech says the Recovery Opportunities and Pathways to Employment Success program will provide deeply needed jobs training. “Folks around the state may not know that there are actually high-skill jobs that are vacant right now in some of our rural areas for want of appropriate folks to work them.”
The new program is part of a larger $4.2 million effort here in Virginia spearheaded by the Appalachian Regional Commission including broadband and solar energy expansion as well as workforce development and water system improvements.