CHAPTER 5B. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1985.

§5B-2K-3. Coalfield Community Grant Facilitation Commission created.

(a) The Coalfield Community Grant Facilitation Commission is hereby created as an independent body corporate. The commission shall consist of 12 members, who shall be residents and citizens of the state. Commission members shall be appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The commission shall consist of the following members:

(1) The Secretary of the Department of Economic Development, or his or her designee, who shall serve as chairperson of the commission;

(2) A representative of county governments of this state;

(3) A representative of large municipalities of this state;

(4) A representative of small municipalities of this state;

(5) Two representatives of a foundation, nonprofit, or other organization that provides grants for public interest projects in this state and who has expertise in grant issuance or administration;

(6) Two representatives of institutions of higher education with specialized knowledge in economic development;

(7) A representative from businesses and industries within the state; and

(8) Three members at large appointed from regions and counties within coalfield areas of the state who have knowledge and experience in local issues, economic development, or other areas of expertise within the directive of the commission.

(b) Each member shall serve a term of five years. Of the members first appointed, five shall be appointed for a term ending December 31, 2023, and three each for terms ending one and two years thereafter. Commission members may be reappointed to additional terms, and although their terms may have expired shall continue to serve until their successor has been appointed.

(c) It is the duty of the commission:

(1) To establish a process for timely review of applications and approval of awards of funds needed as a required match to receive federal, state, or private grants with the goal to assure the greatest possibility that a grant being applied for is received;

(2) To award grants of commission funds, as available, in an efficient and fair manner to provide a match for local entities that would otherwise qualify for a federal, state, or private grant but are unable to fulfill the grant’s matching fund requirements;

(3) To provide grant applicants with technical assistance and support; and

(4) To disseminate information for the purpose of educating persons and entities as to the existence and functions of the commission and as to the availability of state, federal, and nongovernmental resources.

(d) The Department of Economic Development shall assist the commission in its functions and operations including, but not limited to, providing administrative, clerical, and technical support.

(e) Members of the commission are not entitled to compensation for services performed as members. Each member is entitled to reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred in the discharge of their official duties. All expenses incurred by members shall be paid in a manner consistent with guidelines of the Travel Management Office of the Department of Administration and are payable solely from the funds of the Department of Economic Development or from funds appropriated for that purpose by the Legislature.

(f) No liability or obligation is incurred by the commission beyond the extent to which moneys are awarded for grant acquisition facilitation.

(g) Members shall meet as designated and scheduled by the chairperson. The presence of a majority of commission members, in person or by real-time electronic communication, constitutes a quorum to conduct business at a meeting.

(h) The commission shall prioritize the locations for grant funding assistance by utilizing the designation of priority communities established by the “Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization” established by presidential executive order 14008, issued on January 21, 2021. The commission may not certify a project unless it finds that the proposal is in the public interest and the grant will be used for a public purpose. For purposes of this article, projects in the public interest and for a public purpose can provide private benefit, if the commission, in its judgment determines that: (1) the project will enhance a local community or region; (2) the granting entity for which the commission’s matching grant is being used requires a public purpose for grant eligibility; and (3) the commission in its judgment concludes the proposal will enhance the quality of life or services of a community or region. A public purpose includes, but is not limited to, proposals that:

(1) Enhance economic vitality, including revitalization of structures that have public purpose or benefit;

(2) Promote or develop an artistic or philanthropic purpose;

(3) Improve traditional infrastructure, such as water and wastewater treatment facilities, transmission lines, transportation facilities, and flood and wastewater management;

(4) Create or enhance telecommunications infrastructure including cellular towers, fiber optic expansion and technology infrastructure;

(5) Promote agricultural activities and development;

(6) Enhance development of previously mined areas or areas previously used by the coal industry and other industrial activities into uses that diversify the local economy;

(7) Create or expand recreational facilities, such as walking, hiking, all-terrain vehicle, bike trails, picnic facilities, restrooms, boat docking and fishing piers, and athletic facilities;

(8) Are used for acquisition of private property for local public purposes that promote economic vitality and housing development and enhancement;

(9) Preserve or enhance buildings that are of local historic or economic interest;

(10) Restore or create retail facilities, including related service, parking, and transportation facilities, to revitalize decaying downtown areas;

(11) Are the construction or expansion of other facilities that promote or enhance economic development or tourism opportunities thereby promoting the general welfare of local residents;

(12) Provide facilities and activities that provide resources for local residences that enhance quality of life including, but not limited to, childcare access and public transportation;

 (13) Provide vocational and entrepreneurial training for displaced miners and other persons that have lost jobs or have been unable to find employment or business opportunities in the region;

(14) Make investments in coal field communities housing stock removal and remediation to facilitate community preservation and aesthetics; and

(15) Create drug and substance abuse rehabilitation programs and facilities.

(i) Prior to making any matching grant award, the commission may conduct a public hearing to assess local public support. If a public hearing is to be held, notice of the time, place, date, and purpose of the hearing shall be published in at least one newspaper in the county where the proposed grant project is located at least 14 days prior to the hearing date.

(j) When a member of the commission must recuse himself or herself because of a perceived or actual conflict of interest regarding a proposed grant assistance award, a majority of the remaining members of the commission without a conflict shall be sufficient for the conduct of commission business.