Press Statement

Press Statement: More Than 100 Attend ReImagine Appalachia’s Landmark Community Benefits and Labor Standards Summit


Contact: Jodi Hirsh, 412-326-9832, [email protected] 


The virtual conference focused on how Appalachian communities can maximize benefits of new federal investments and ensure new projects work for everyone

Appalachia —This past Tuesday and Thursday, more than 300 people registered for the virtual landmark conference hosted by ReImagine Appalachia. The Community Benefits Summit featured speakers like Athens, Ohio Mayor Steve Patterson, Cornell’s Director of Labor Leadership Programs Kathleen Mulligan, and the Department of Labor’s Rukku Singla, all of whom highlighted how community benefits and labor standards could help reimagine Appalachia. 

With billions of dollars in federal investments coming into American communities following the passage of major federal legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the aim of the event was to help prepare participants to building coalitions, advocate for new projects and ensure that new developments benefit everyone in their communities.

Said ReImagine Appalachia Director of Special Projects Natalia Rudiak, “Appalachian communities have been waiting for critical federal investments for decades. Now, it’s critical that communities know how to harness those funds, ensuring all new projects guarantee locally sourced jobs with family-sustaining wages, retirement, and health care benefits. That’s how we create career pathways for everyone in our communities, expand affordable housing and ensure we have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe.”

The summit included panels and workshops, and featured experts in economic development, labor, climate and conservation, and racial and equity work. Key stakeholders from the Appalachian region will share case studies for transformational change, highlighting concrete examples and key learnings on how communities can benefit from federal investments that spur new projects. During the summit, participants will also learn how to negotiate hard agreements and use community land trusts as a tool for economic transition. 

At the Summit, Patty DeMarco, Vice President of Council at Forest Hills Borough talked about the Community Benefits Agreement she and the Mon Metro Chamber of Commerce are negotiating with an innovative battery production company that’s going to produce hundreds of jobs with an apprenticeship program for local high school students. The company is also going to move their entire supply chain operations to the Mon Valley.  Said Council Member DeMarco, “This is the perfect example of how community benefit and labor standards can help grow our collective vision for Appalachia, including good jobs, a safe environment, and inclusive community.”


Reimagine Appalachia is a coalition of labor, policy experts and community leaders who are making sure that everyone who lives here can have a good job and can put down roots for the future. For months, the coalition has been pushing Congress to pass major funding packages that create jobs, rebuild infrastructure, and address fires and floods caused by damage to the climate.