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Feds commit another $2M to Colstrip for worker retraining

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Colstrip Power Plant

The Colstrip Power Plant is shown on October 2, 2020.

The federal government is committing another $2.4 million to southeast Montana in response to the declining coal economy.

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced the $2.4 million grant to the Southeastern Montana Development Corporation to stimulate economic development and worker retraining.

“This EDA project will support emerging businesses, provide training to dislocated workers, and provide a center for entrepreneurial activities for the region,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo in a press release. “By including co-working spaces, a makerspace, and offices, the Business Innovation Center will give businesses and entrepreneurs the support to grow and expand, leading to a more diverse economy and increased job opportunities for the community.”

The Commerce grant is funneled through the Department’s Economic Development Administration, which also provided $430,000 in funding in 2019, records show.

Also in 2017, the federal government awarded southeast Montana a $2 million Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Grant for retraining displaced Montana coal workers. The money was to be triggered by pink slips, which were slow to come, delaying assistance.

In addition, two of Colstrip Power Plant’s six owners have committed money to help the community transition to a post-coal era. Puget Sound Energy committed $10 million to Colstrip in 2017. Spokane-based Avista Corp. committed $3 million in transition funding to the community in 2020.

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