Op-Ed: We’re creating a culture of collaboration, transformation in Eastern Kentucky


12th July, 2017



Kevin Loux




Op-Ed: We’re creating a culture of collaboration, transformation in Eastern Kentucky

It’s hard to believe that we are on the heels of our fourth-annual SOAR Summit in Pikeville.  Four years ago, SOAR was an idea.  It was a seed of hope planted in a region destined for transformation.

Our dream is becoming reality.

SOAR has served as a catalyst for doers.  It has brought people from all walks of life, from Ashland to Paintsville, Lynch, Hazard, London, Morehead and all places in between, together to share their passion of a bigger and better Appalachia.  The passions shared cover a wide spectrum from local foods and agriculture, to technology, education, workforce training and cultural and historic preservation.

What unites us in this passion?  The commonality of purpose to build a better eastern Kentucky for all of us and generations to come.

SOAR is much more than an idea.  It is a movement.  It is a collaboration of all that is good in eastern Kentucky.  It validates that none of us can do this alone, but if we work together, we can accomplish anything.

Every day I see the good happening across the SOAR region.  Our work has opened doors for local entrepreneurs to create jobs.  Our work has allowed for new and innovative training through our partners in higher education, workforce development and the private sectors.

Our work, collectively, has connected the dots to do what many thought was impossible.

But our work is not done.  Actually, this is just the beginning.

I challenge you to be involved.  I challenge you to be purposeful in your passion.  I challenge you to do something, be it small or large, to make a difference in your community.

A unique way you can contribute is by being a part of the SOAR Network (www.soar.network), a community of doers that share their passion for areas such as Regional Food Systems, Regional Tourism Development, Industrial Development, Healthy Communities, Small Business in the Digital Economy, Broadband Infrastructure, and a 21st Century Workforce.

These areas are aligned with our Regional Blueprint for a 21st Century Appalachia (www.soar-ky.org/blueprint) which is the region’s collective plan to build a brighter future in Appalachia KY.  We need every citizen, community, and organization working together to help us move the needle on these goals and objectives.

I often get asked “What is SOAR?”

That’s a good question and it doesn’t have a short answer.  However, through everything it boils down to this: You.  SOAR is you, it’s me, and it’s us not sitting back and watching, but instead, it is us owning our future.  It’s an attitude. Let’s create a culture of collaboration and transformation.

So, I urge you to be part of the solution and join the movement.  Join us for the fourth-annual SOAR Summit in Pikeville on Friday, August 4.  Visit our website (www.soar-ky.org) to learn about ways you can contribute.

– Jared Arnett is executive director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR)