EDA: $1.1 Million Invested to Support Healthcare Workforce Programs to Benefit Coal Communities in Western Colorado

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.1 million grant to Colorado Mesa University (CMU), Grand Junction, Colorado, to provide equipment and technology to support physician’s assistant, physical therapy, and occupational therapy degree programs. This EDA grant will be matched with $280,495 in local funds and is expected to help create 210 jobs.

“President Biden is committed to supporting coal communities as they seek to diversify their economies,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The new healthcare degree programs at Colorado Mesa University will provide opportunities to grow and expand the workforce in Western Colorado, leading to increased job opportunities and creating a more diverse and resilient regional economy.”

“President Biden believes the nation owes the men and women who helped build and power the American economy for generations by ensuring they have opportunities to keep building the nation in other ways today, and to ensure they get paid well for it,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “The expanded degree programs at CMU will train students on specialized equipment, developing highly-trained healthcare personnel, leading to a more diverse workforce for coal communities in Western Colorado.”

“This major investment will make a big difference for Colorado Mesa University and help ensure that we can help more Coloradans have the skills to pursue growing opportunities as physician assistants, physical therapists, and occupational therapists,” said Governor Jared Polis. “This investment will unlock new opportunities for jobs, support Colorado Mountain University, and empower the Grand Valley for even more success. We thank Secretary Raimondo and President Biden for their commitment to all of Colorado and to CMU students.”

“Colorado’s rural communities have helped shape our economy for decades,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “Investments like these help provide them with the tools to build more diverse and resilient economies and ensure new opportunities for the next generation. These programs and resources at CMU will help Western Colorado continue to grow its economy, expand its health workforce, and strengthen local health care training into the future.”

“This funding will help Colorado Mesa University diversify the workforce and build a resilient economy on the Western Slope,” said Senator John Hickenlooper.

This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC). EDA funds AGNC to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.

This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) initiative, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal. ACC projects support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.

This award is a great example of what communities can do under EDA’s new American Rescue Plan programs; particularly the $300 million Coal Communities Commitment. This investment will ensure that coal communities have the resources they need to recover from the pandemic and will help create new jobs and opportunities, including through the development or expansion of a new industry sector.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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