The Center for Rural Development is providing FREE entrepreneurial and skills training for displaced coal miners in Knox, Harlan and Perry counties

The Center for Rural Development, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is providing tuition-free entrepreneurial and skills training opportunities for displaced coal miners in Knox, Harlan, and Perry counties.

The training will provide business and technical skills for displaced coal miners in these three Eastern Kentucky counties to learn what it takes to start, finance, and run a small business.

The Center has been awarded a federal Rural Business Development Grant from the USDA to create and manage a displaced coal miner training initiative for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The goal of the initiative is to provide an all-inclusive training package that will lead displaced coal miners in Knox, Harlan, and Perry—three Promise Zone counties within The Center’s primary service area—to gain self-employment as rural entrepreneurs or with existing entrepreneurial enterprises in these communities.

“Coal has played a major role in the economy of Eastern Kentucky, and these three counties have lost a significant number of jobs due to the decline of the coal industry,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center. “This program will give displaced coal miners the tools and resources to start and manage their own business.”

Training will include Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation’s Entrepreneurial SMARTS (Simple Methods and Reality-based Training for Success), a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and small business training program, and other providers within The Center’s Displaced Coal Miner Training (DCMT) program.

The entrepreneurial training program will concentrate on developing small business skills as an entrepreneur while providing technical training in several of the region’s top, in-demand occupations.

“We not only train displaced coal miners on how to start a small business, but we give them the technical skills to go out and open that business,” Larry Combs, Director of Technology and Business Services said. “Entrepreneurs are the backbone of the region’s economy, and we are training the region’s next entrepreneurial leaders.”

For more information on applying for the displaced coal miner entrepreneurial training program, call Robyn Phillips at 606-677-6000 or visit The deadline to apply is Jan. 29. Spaces are limited, so apply now.