Grant to fund recover efforts in aftermath of mine closure

A federal grant will help fund efforts to promote a more robust and diverse economy in Western Colorado in the aftermath of the closure of an underground coal mine and associated layoffs.

The Commerce Department Economic Development Administration announced the $245,000 grant to the Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning based in Montrose.

The grant will fund an analysis and efforts to improve the economies in Delta and Gunnison counties following the closure of the Oxbow Elk Creek mine near Somerset. The closure followed a fire that damaged mining equipment and led to the layoffs of most of the workforce there.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs and Delta and Gunnison counties also provided matching funds for the grant.

“Region 10 LEAP is pleased to work with EDA on this important project to better understand our economy and work to improve the economic outlook of our rural communities,” said Michelle Haynes, executive director of Region 10.

U.S. Sen Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado, pressed the EDA to offer assistance after the mine closure.

“The closure of the Oxbow mine in Somerset due to a recent underground fire dealt a devastating blow to the economies of Delta and Gunnison counties. I am proud the Economic Development Administration has heeded my call and issued this $245,000 competitive grant to help create a strategy to put folks back to work and improve the economy in Delta and Gunnison counties,” Udall said. “This is a welcome development, and I will keep fighting to ensure we do everything possible to help Delta and Gunnison counties recover.”