MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WBOY) – Earlier in September, it was announced that West Virginia University would join Coalfield Development Corporation, as well as other universities, NGOs, nonprofits and cities on a large development project in West Virginia.

The project recently became the recipient of a $62.8 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge Grant. The grant gave out a total of $1 billion dollars.

According to Danny Twilley, Assistant Vice President of Economic, Community and Asset Development for the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, 500 projects submitted for planning dollars. According to a press statement from the White House, the project WVU is involved with was awarded the fourth most money out of the 21 projects that were funded.

With the coalition, hopes are that the group will utilize abandoned mines that stretch over thousands of miles to turn them into assets and sustainable lands again.

“When you’re bringing together the President’s office, provost, research team, three colleges and many others, we’re bringing a collective expertise that transects the University to try to address a foundational need for the state,” Twilley said. “That’s fulfilment of the land-grant mission.”

Twilley is ecstatic to be able to connect the project with the university’s land-grant mission.

“Speaks to who we are as WVU and the call to fulfill our land-grant mission and that’s what gets me really excited,” he said.

The project doesn’t just relate back to WVU’s mission, but also its recent message of purpose.

“As President Gee says, we have to align what we do with our purpose,” Twilley said. “The team is built on this idea of helping advance West Virginia for West Virginians and our communities and this project is one of the ways that we’re trying to actionize our land grant and our mission.”

Coalfield Development Corporation is primarily leading the charge with workforce development, but WVU is playing a heavy hand in the project as well. The university is involved non-construction work in doing site assessments, development acceleration, policy issues, financial feasibility and more.