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Fairmont State University Receives Funding through Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative Impact
Fairmont State News

Fairmont State University Receives Funding through Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative

Students writing on whiteboardFairmont State University has been awarded $34,604 in grant funding through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC’s) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative to lay the groundwork for industry/higher education partnerships in Marion, Barbour, and Preston counties.

POWER offers federal support for workforce and economic development in Appalachian areas that have been affected by job loss within the coal industry. In response to this initiative, Fairmont State University has partnered with the Barbour and Preston County Economic Development Authorities and Glenville State University to develop a project titled, Exploring, Building, and Developing: Industry/Higher Ed Partnerships in West Virginia. The planning grant from ARC will support a series of partnership-building activities to investigate how the universities' STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) departments can collaborate with county Economic Development Authorities and regional STEM industries to address the needs of Appalachia’s changing economic landscape.

The project will be led by Dr. Robert Niichel, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Fairmont State, and Dr. Erica Harvey, visiting Professor of Chemistry at Fairmont State. Other senior personnel on the project will be Dr. Mahmood Hossain, Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics at Fairmont State; Ms. Abby Chapman, Assistant Professor of Occupational Safety at Fairmont State; Ms. Roberta Baylor, Executive Director of the Preston County Economic Development Authority; Ms. Cheryl Wolfe, Executive Director of the Barbour County Economic Development Authority; Ms. Brooke Fincham, Lecturer of Mathematics at Glenville State; and Dr. Sara Sawyer, Professor of Biology at Glenville State University.

“Our project team sees partnerships between higher education institutions and industry as a powerful tool to enhance the economic landscape of a region,” said Niichel. “This grant will strengthen connections between local and regional industries, Fairmont State, and Glenville State, which in turn will provide opportunities for our students.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development entity of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. Learn more by visting ARC'S website.

“It is a great honor for Fairmont State University and our partners to receive the ARC POWER grant,” said Dr. Michael Davis, President of Fairmont State University. “Building partnerships between universities and area STEM industries will not only help us prepare our students for fulfilling STEM careers but will also create a pipeline of qualified graduates to fill roles in a variety of Appalachian industries, strengthening the economy of the entire region.”