PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) held its fourth-annual summit at the East Kentucky Expo Center on Friday, August 4. More than 1,200 people from across Appalachia Kentucky attended the day-long event, which featured showcases from more than 130 organizations.
“This convening of believers validates that there’s a future in Appalachia,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “This year’s summit was not about what we plan to do, but instead about what we are doing. SOAR has its hands in many different projects, but the main thing we are doing is building a Connected Appalachia. We are empowering those who have dreams to turn them into a reality; we are blurring county lines and working in a unified effort to bring jobs and other development to our region; and we are demonstrating the faith and grit that will get us to the ultimate destination of Appalachia Kentucky being full of opportunities for all who seek it.”
Arnett announced the upcoming launch of a Strategic Partnership Program, which will allow organizations to sign on as a formal supporter of SOAR and commit to help implement the organization’s Regional Blueprint throughout their respective organizations and the communities they serve.
“We’re asking our strategic partners to take ownership of the Regional Blueprint,” added Arnett. “Their formalized partnership will allow us to expand our reach, build working groups and empower our partners with a plan that will foster job creation and improve the quality of life and quality of place for everyone in Appalachia Kentucky.”
Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers and Governor Matt Bevin, who serve as co-chairs of SOAR, spoke of the progress taking place in Appalachia Kentucky because of SOAR.
“We are beginning to see the fruits of our collaborative efforts,” said Congressman Rogers. “The more we can prove to ourselves that we can work together, good things will happen and this organization will continue to SOAR.”