Washington, PA, January 31, 2017 – The Washington Greene County Job Training Agency, Inc. (WGCJTA, Inc.) has been awarded a $653,400 grant award from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).  This grant will fund the Transitioning from Black to Blue: Training Former Coal Workers for Natural Gas Utility and Pipeline Careers in Appalachia.  The program will be created and implemented in conjunction with Gas Technology Institute (GTI), a leading research, development and training organization that has been the natural gas education leader for 75 years.

The ARC award will provide a targeted retraining program for displaced coal workers that enables them to pursue local employment in the natural gas utility and pipeline industry. The training courses will be offered at three regional education institutions – Butler County Community College, Westmoreland County Community College, and Washington State Community College (Marietta, OH). The curriculum developed by GTI ensures that participants’ knowledge and skill development is industry-standard and best positions them to find stable employment in an expedited manner. The project will primarily serve a 23-county area in southeast Ohio and southwest Pennsylvania, and will train100 individuals.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our Workforce Development Area and surrounding region to offer high-quality training to dislocated coal miners in order to transition from the mines to the natural gas industry,” said Ami Gatts, President/CFO of WGCJTA, Inc.  “With many of our local miners looking for training and employment, I feel this program can provide that opportunity.”

“This program will enhance the regional jobs picture by providing targeted training that will meet the workforce needs of the utility and pipeline industry while providing the students with tangible skills that are in high demand,” said Patrick Findle, Senior Program Manager at GTI. “The long-term strategy is to extend the program in both the number of students trained and areas served.”

“Assisting our coal-impacted communities presents significant opportunities for community revitalization and economic advancement,” said Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin. “The Wolf Administration appreciates the Appalachian Regional Commission’s support of these efforts in Pennsylvania. We anticipate continued progress as the recently awarded POWER grants are implemented and applaud WGCJTA for its efforts.”

Program development will begin in March and training is anticipated to begin in Summer/Fall 2017.  Program updates and information can be found at www.washingtongreene.org or by contacting Patrick Findle, Program Manager at patrick.findle@gastechnology.org; 412-577-8350.