A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

KentuckyWired, a long-delayed project to bring high-speed internet to KY, has opened two new sections

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today KentuckyWired, a project to bring high-speed internet to all parts of Kentucky that has been beset by delays and cost overruns, has opened two new sections, primarily serving southern and eastern Kentucky.

 Gov. Matt Bevin and Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, made the announcement on Friday at the SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) Summit in Pikeville...

SOAR hosting substance-abuse disorder educational and policy event at Pikeville on Oct. 3

Shaping Our Appalachian Region’s Healthy Communities program and the University of Pikeville will host a substance-use disorder education event Tuesday, Oct. 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the university’s Kentucky College of Optometry (Health Professionals Education Building). The meeting is for “health professionals and stakeholders who share the vision of reducing the scope and impact...

KCTC presidents, officials examine ways to think like entrepreneurs during professional workshop

Presidents and others representing several colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) took part in a professional development opportunity on adopting an entrepreneurship mindset. KCTCS, along with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), offered the event as part of the lead up to the SOAR Summit. NAACE...

Rural Blog: ARC annual report finds Eastern Kentucky economy needs 30,000 additional jobs

The Appalachian Regional Commission annual report outlined a bleak view of Eastern Kentucky as leaders in the region gathered to focus on its future. The report, released Aug. 3, said 37 of Kentucky’s 54 counties in the ARC region are economically distressed, meaning that they rank in the bottom 10 percent of the 3,113 counties in the U.S. in metrics such as poverty and unemployment. The counties,...

Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Grants totaling $5 million released for economic development projects

U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) announced three grants worth almost $5 million to spur economic development and job creation in Eastern Kentucky. Two of the grants were awarded by the EEC’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, as part of the 2016 Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot program to revitalize the coalfields in Kentucky’s...

Commentary: K-12 school districts leaders in development of Silicon Holler and the new economy

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Our communities need to move beyond “Kentucky Work Ready Communities” to “Future Work Ready Communities.” Communities need to advance to a higher level of community and economic development, ensuring they build their own global economy ports. The Kentucky State Workforce Board and Economic Development Cabinet deserve praise for establishing the highest level...

Commentary: East Kentucky needs leaders, citizens who aren’t afraid to dream bigger

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Rural communities miss great opportunities when their leaders and citizens do not dream big enough. One of our problems in not making “Appalachian Kentucky Great Again” has been thinking too small and scaling down our dreams and expectations. Congressman Hal Rogers has had a big vision for bringing the digital economy for nearly 10 years but, often our organizations...

Ron Daley: Eastern Kentucky must learn from past to prepare for future; admit failures, celebrate success

We need to understand the reasons why eastern Kentucky has not made the same level of progress as other Appalachian coal states before we can develop and implement strategies to grow a vibrant diversified economy. Additionally, we need to study the best practices in southern Ohio, West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and northeastern Tennessee for productive planning. And, we must not be fearful to...

Commerce Lexington group to take ‘Regional Tour’ to Eastern Kentucky to learn more about SOAR initiative

In 2009, Commerce Lexington Inc. revived a long-ago tradition of visiting other areas of Kentucky with the intention of listening and learning from the leaders in each of the cities and locations visited. This year’s Kentucky Regional Tour presented by East Kentucky Power Cooperative on October 24-25 will make a return to portions of Eastern Kentucky with an agenda and itinerary centered around...

State’s first SOAR Health Hack-A-Thon will focus on Eastern Kentucky’s health challenges

Registration is now open for the Appalachian Health Hack-A-Thon, an action-oriented event designed to create new and innovative solutions to the health challenges in Eastern Kentucky. “A Hack-A-Thon is an event in which people with different backgrounds and expertise form teams, collaborate within a limited time frame, and focus on a specific problem or idea in health care to come up with innovative,...

Feds send over $12 million in economic development grants to Kentucky’s SOAR region

As part of the work of Shaping our Appalachian Region, grants totaling more than $12 million were announced for projects in Kentucky Wednesday. With these investments, more than 400 jobs will be created in our region along with almost $40 million in economic impact and leveraged project funding. Here’s a closer look at the grants: — $2,750,000 ARC grant to the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated...

Third annual hepatitis conference scheduled July 26 in Lexington; Hepatitis C Town Hall July 28 in Hazard

Kentucky, which leads the nation in hepatitis C infections, will have its third annual hepatitis conference July 26 in Lexington, followed by a Hepatitis C Town Hall Meeting in Hazard July 28, World Hepatitis Day. The first meeting, “Hepatitis: Breaking the Silence,” is hosted by the Kentucky Rural Health Association, the state Department for Public Health’s Adult Viral Hepatitis...

SourceHOV in Mount Vernon announces availability of 600 new jobs digitizing veterans’ claims

Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Co-Chairs U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Gov. Matt Bevin recently announced more than 600 jobs are now available at SourceHOV in Mount Vernon. ​ “We are thankful for SourceHOV’s continued investment in Kentucky. We look forward to the further benefits that will come as they expand our relationship and partner with SOAR to provide jobs in our eastern counties,”...

SOAR executive board unanimously selects KARD applicants to receive total of $1.5 million

The SOAR executive board approved to recommend applicants to the Kentucky Department of Local Government for funding from the Kentucky Appalachian Regional Development (KARD) Fund by unanimous consent. Pending final approval by the Department of Local Government, the selected recipients will begin to receive disbursements within the next few months. “We applaud the innovative forward-thinking ideas...

Center for Rural Development leading the efforts on broadband expansion in Eastern Kentucky

The Center for Rural Development—a regional leader in technology—is leading the efforts to bring reliable, high-speed Internet to Eastern Kentucky. U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of the Center, and other area leaders met with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler on a recent trip to McKee and Hazard in Eastern Kentucky to discuss...

SOAR executive committee backs development of online social network ‘Our Appalachia’

In the first meeting of 2016 at the Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Pineville, the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Executive Committee welcomed Gov. Matt Bevin as the new co-chair of the organization. Bevin will serve alongside co-founder and co-chair U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers. Gov. Matt Bevin “I am honored to be back in Southeastern Kentucky with this inspiring group of leaders. SOAR’s mission,...

Eastern Ky. economic effort is ‘most exciting’ thing happening in community development

Pine Mountain (SOAR photo)   By Al Cross Special to KyForward   The bipartisan effort to revive and diversity Eastern Kentucky’s coal-dependent economy “is the most exciting thing occurring in local community development and revitalization anywhere in this country,” the federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission said at an ARC economic development conference...

Ron Daley: Ready … or not? If we're prepared, broadband can reshape Appalachian region

Is your community ready for the great opportunities to grow the economy and improve the quality of life as broadband fiber optic cable comes to the region? If we are not, then the gap of economic quality will widen in Appalachian Kentucky.   As part of my work with our high-performing school districts, our communities and the regional initiatives including Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR)...

Officials celebrate state broadband project; government facilities among first to benefit

      To celebrate the construction of the statewide KentuckyWired I-Way broadband network, Gov. Steve Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers, state and local officials, and citizens gathered at Hazard Community and Technical College yesterday to learn more about the project and its future.   The broadband project will begin in Eastern Kentucky and, over the next three years, will spread...

New SOAR health chair wants to tackle issues that have ‘broadest reach, greatest impact’

  By Melissa Patrick Special to KyForward   Dr. William Hacker, a former state health commissioner, is the new chair of the Community Health Advisory Council for Shaping Our Appalachian Region, a nonprofit organization created last year by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers of the 5th District to improve Appalachian Kentucky’s economy.   So,...