Building a 21st Century Appalachia. together.
SOAR is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that is a champion for Appalachia Kentucky. Through collaboration and innovation, we have established a network of partners, representing individuals, organizations,and businesses, who unequivocally believe THERE IS A FUTURE IN APPALACHIA.
To expand job creation
Enhance regional opportunity, innovation, and identity
Improve the quality of life
Support all those working to achieve these goals in Appalachian Kentucky.
An Appalachian Kentucky engaged in a landscape-changing enterprise:shaped by a shared and envisioned future, driven by innovation, entrepreneurship, and a commitment to common purpose, with improved education, health, and economic outcomes, and expanding opportunities, for all our region’s citizens.
We press on, even when it may seem easier to quit. It's a deep connection to our culture, one deeply entrenched in faith, family, and work. That same grit and determination, an unwavering dedication to accomplish what we put our minds to, will be the catalyst that builds the 21st century Appalachia we so desire. We're required to overcome opposition, frustration, disappointment and discouragement.
We commit to being the driving force that embraces and drives change to create a 21st Century Appalachia. As a leader in community and economic development, we will instill a spirit of collaboration among stakeholders that promotes unity and a collective vision and purpose. As a leader, we will add value to others and develop more leaders.
Our actions are driven by compassion. We act because we care about our neighbors and the future of the communities we serve.
Thinking and planning is critically important to building a 21st Century Appalachia. We believe there is significant, long-term benefits to spending adequate time focusing on what is important but not urgent. By being strategic, our work is driven by our Regional Blueprint, which is a guide to making our vision a reality
We are a future-focused organization that acknowledges and appreciates our past. We will approach issues in a creative, innovative and collaborative manner with a focus on the future. We will develop innovative solutions, outside of assumed barriers, and seek effective methods of implementation
We believe in the impossible. Faith is at the core of our values, because we firmly believe in things we can't see. We envision an Appalachia full of opportunity and one that competes and thrives in the 21st Century economy. Everything we do today is guided by where we want to be tomorrow
Together. Everyone. Accomplishes. More. We will work together harmoniously and simultaneously, with vigor, to build a 21st Century Appalachia. We recognize, while we may work independently at times, the future of our region is dependent on one another.
We will put others first and demonstrate the traits of servant leadership to move our region forward. In service to build a 21st Century Appalachia, the individual successes will be celebrated and promoted as team successes.
We live with purpose. Purpose is the overarching belief that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Each and every partner has individual purpose to pursue in building a 21st Century Appalachia.
We believe in providing and accepting accountability. As a Collective Impact organization, we commit to effectively communicating with our stakeholders and being a champion for accountability.
SOAR took flight in 2013 as a collaborative effort to address challenges and explore opportunities in Eastern Kentucky. Unlike task forces and commissions that had analyzed Appalachia Kentucky for more than 50 years, SOAR was created as a platform for the people of Appalachia Kentucky to be engaged, embrace new ideas, leverage resources, and build capacity to create a 21st Century Appalachia.
Created through the bi-partisan efforts of Congressman Hal Rogers and former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, SOAR immediately began to identify partners and begin to construct a framework to transform Eastern Kentucky. On October 28, 2013, Congressman Rogers and former Governor Beshear challenged a diverse group of citizens to design, develop, and execute a regional dialogue. This led to the establishment of a Working Group Report addressing the challenges and identifying the opportunities that faced the region, and more importantly, making the case that an organization like SOAR needed to be in place to connect partners and be a champion for its future.
The movement that is SOAR took root.
On December 9, 2013, the first SOAR Summit was held on a blistering winter day at the East Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville, Ky. Through the assistance of Congressman Rogers and former Governor Beshear and state and federal partners, including the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and USDA Rural Development, the first-ever convening exceeded all expectations with more than 1,500 in attendance.
In 2016, SOAR released its Regional Blueprint for a 21st Century Appalachia. This comprehensive strategy identified seven goals that emerged from the input of thousands of citizens from across the region. It highlights the need for connectivity and ways to utilize it to transform Appalachia Kentucky.
Our impact is a result of the collaboration and innovation taking place throughout the region. From advanced manufacturing, remote work, small business expansion, and tech start-ups, to industrial recruitment, local foods and establishing Appalachia Kentucky as a tourism destination, we truly believe that there is a Future in Appalachia. As a region, we are invested, at all levels, to overcoming challenges and identifying new opportunities through a regional and strategic approach that promotes unity, purpose, hope, and results.
The 21st Century Appalachia we envision is shared through our network of partners that invest annually in our program of work. Spanning many different business and industry sectors, our partners believe There is a Future in Appalachia.