Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine introduced legislation to stop the Trump administration from shutting down the Flatwoods Job Corps Center in Coeburn, a move that would eliminate dozens of jobs and $6 million in local economic activity.
The bipartisan Job Corps Protection Act would block the administration from using federal government funds in 2019 or 2020 to close any Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers in the United States.
Flatwoods was one of nine rural job corps centers that the Department of Labor (DOL) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced they would shut down, resulting in the loss of 1,100 federal jobs.
The rural Job Corps program trains young Americans for jobs in rural communities and enrolls more than 3,000 students per year.
Flatwoods allows students to earn their high school diploma or GED while also learning specialized job skills such as carpentry, plumbing, or electrical. Students also regularly help local fire departments in fighting fires, provide free labor for community projects in the region, and assist the forest service with maintenance.
“For decades, the Flatwoods Job Corps facility in Coeburn, Virginia has helped equip young Virginians with the skills needed to succeed in today’s changing economy,” said Sen. Warner. “Closing the door on this vital program would not only make it harder to expand economic opportunities in Southwest Virginia, it will also make it harder for Virginia’s employers to find the kind of high-skilled talent that the jobs of tomorrow will require.”
The bill comes after Warner, Kaine and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) sent the Trump administration a letter, urging them to reconsider the shutdown of the facilities.
In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the Job Corps Protection Act is sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.).