Supporting Appalachian Communities
We are building stronger partnerships with our local communities to help revitalize some of the hardest hit communities by the changes in the coal industry. Three states in the heart of Appalachia have been particularly affected. Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia have experienced job losses, the loss of tax revenue to support local public services, and the loss of indirect economic benefits from having a locally employed workforce. In response, AEP is making targeted efforts to revitalize those communities to attract new industry and jobs and empower local leaders to take the lead in rebuilding their communities.
In 2017, AEP and our regional economic development partners launched Appalachian Sky – an initiative to attract the aerospace and aviation industry to AEP’s central Appalachia service region. A comprehensive regional workforce analysis of AEP’s Kentucky territory was the catalyst that showed that coal miners, many of whom lost their jobs due to recent mine and coal plant closings, have the skills that aerospace and advanced manufacturing companies need. The study, funded in part by a Kentucky Power Economic Growth Grant (K-PEGG), concluded that the region had eight times the national average of skilled metal workers - recognizing the potential of the aerospace industry to diversify the central Appalachian economy.
AEP commissioned a leading aerospace consultancy to determine the viability of aerospace in Appalachia’s coal and steel country. Several counties in the region have been certified as AEROreadyTM. The AEROready certification ensures aerospace companies that the certified regions, sites and communities are suitable for aerospace operations. We continue to work collaboratively with our partners in an effort to further develop and market the Appalachian Sky initiative.
Other areas within AEP’s service territory are attractive for aerospace and aviation investment, and we have pursued similar AEROready certifications:
- In October 2017, the City of Shreveport and surrounding communities were certified as AEROready. They saw immediate impact when Western Global Airlines announced it would establish an aircraft maintenance facility at Shreveport Regional Airport. The $3 million investment will ultimately create 170 new direct jobs and an estimated 308 new indirect jobs.
- In April 2018, the San Patricio County Economic Development Corporation and Corpus Christi Metropolitan Statistical Area announced the region received the first AEROready Certification in Texas. The move sets the stage for the Coast Bend to attract high-quality aviation and aerospace jobs to the region.