SOAR to host COSTARTERS cohorts in London, Prestonsbhurg, and Whitesburg

LONDON, Ky., PRESTONSBURG, Ky., and WHITESBURG, Ky. – Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR) and the Cabinet for Economic Development’s KY Innovation Office have announced a new round of locations to host a nationally-recognized entrepreneurship program.

SOAR will launch CO.STARTERS cohorts in London, Prestonsburg, and Whitesburg beginning on Monday, October 7.  Applications are currently being accepted at

CO.STARTERS is a nine-week, cohort-based program that equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn business ideas into action and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving endeavors. The unique part about CO.STARTERS is that it is facilitated by local entrepreneurs and is catered for start-ups or existing small businesses aspiring for scalability.  Facilitators for this round of cohorts are: Daniel Carmack (London), Tonya Campbell (Prestonsburg), and Debbie Campbell (Whitesburg).  Cohorts will meet one night a week during the nine-week period.

Earlier this year, SOAR held its first round of CO.STARTERS cohorts in Hazard, Morehead, and Pikeville.

“Our first cohorts were a success,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “What makes CO.STARTERS unique is that is truly peer-to-peer learning experience that creates a community for entrepreneurs and start-ups to collaborate and become a champion for small business in the digital economy in their respective communities.”

SOAR Innovation is a partnership with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s KY Innovation Office.  This work is conducted in 44 Appalachia Kentucky by Ryan Jones, director of business and innovation, and Business and Innovation Champions Jeffery Justice, Colby Fugate, and Tal Jones.  The program provides free services to innovation-led or innovation-capable small businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs.

“Our team has identified countless entrepreneurs and small businesses already working or wishing to learn more about growing their business through avenues such as e-commerce and exporting,” said Ryan Jones, director of business and innovation at SOAR. “Programs such as COSTARTERS not only provide training, but a community where such individuals get to know each other and this creates potential synergies to collaborate and innovate.”

For more information on SOAR Innovation or the CO.STARTERS program, call (606) 766-1160 or email Jones at   

Teleworks USA to Host Open House at New Digital Career Center on EKU Manchester Campus Oct. 11

Teleworks USA will host an open house event at the new Teleworks USA Digital Career Center on Eastern Kentucky University’s Manchester Campus from 1-3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11. The public is invited to attend and tour the center, learn more about remote-work opportunities, and enroll for an upcoming workshop. 


Teleworks USA recently partnered with EKU to open the new Digital Career Center and connect prospective teleworkers in Clay and surrounding counties with new remote-work opportunities. The partnership officially commenced in September, and has resulted in a space on campus that includes everything needed to complete Teleworks USA’s customer service and technical support workshops, and prepare for and land jobs in the digital economy.

“We couldn’t be more happy to have entered into this partnership with Eastern Kentucky University—our first Teleworks USA partnership with one of Kentucky’s four-year universities,” said Michael Cornett, EKCEP Director of Agency Expansion and Teleworks USA. “For anyone in Clay and surrounding counties who may be curious about what Teleworks USA does, this open house event is a great opportunity to learn more and even enroll for future workshops.”

An initiative of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), Teleworks USA identifies and develops legitimate remote-work job opportunities with multiple national and global companies, and helps prospective teleworkers prepare for and land those positions. Starting salaries for most jobs range between $10-$13 per hour.

Teleworks USA is expected to feature ongoing on-site activity and monthly workshops at the new Digital Career Center. The public at large has an opportunity to see and experience the new workshop space first-hand prior to the open house by enrolling in the first workshop beginning Oct. 7. During the workshop, prospective teleworkers can expect to gain valuable computer and digital literacy skills that will boost their success in landing a work-from-home job that can be performed from a home office over the internet. Teleworks USA Outreach Manager Amy Nunn will be on hand during the workshop to assist participants in building their résumés and to practice interviewing skills.

“We’re excited for people to come and see this new space and learn more about how Teleworks USA can connect people with legitimate jobs they can do from the comfort of their own home,” said Betty Hays, Teleworks USA Operations Manager. “Since 2015 we’ve helped connect nearly 2,500 people with new jobs, so we know this workshop model works and we’re ready to bring this service to Clay County.”

The Teleworks USA Digital Career Center is located in room 107 within the EKU Manchester Campus, located at 50 University Drive. For more information, or to enroll for the upcoming workshop, contact Amy Nunn at 606-438-1533 or via email at

SOAR Represented at Appalachian Research Day

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Dr. Margo Riggs and Megan Williams, employees of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assigned to Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR) attended the fifth-annual Appalachian Research Day in Hazard.

This event is a unique forum to “come sit on the porch” to join the discussion and learn more about findings of health disparities research as it is delivered directly to the community where the research is conducted. The event is hosted by University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health with presentations describing successes in improving health outcomes and leveraging strengths and assets to improve health and well-being in in Appalachia Kentucky by Dr. Randy Wykoff, Dean of the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University, Dr. Mike Meir, Co-Director of NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, and SOAR partner, Scott Lockard, Director of Kentucky River District Health Department, along with a keynote address from the new Health Commissioner at the Kentucky Department for Public Health Dr Angela Dearinger, who grew up in Paintsville.

Community Health Workers shared the important work they do at the local level with personal success stories from the field. Researchers disseminated their findings in a poster session that included topics ranging from understanding how environmental factors contribute to asthma; identifying facilitators to and barriers of physical activity in rural trail towns; addressing barriers to cervical cancer screening, seeing how high school students assist with air and radon screening in Appalachian households; AAA screening in Appalachia; and recommendations from a Health Impact Assessment of the Elkhorn Lake Improvement Project.

The day ended with a moderated panel discussion about health improvements in women who participated in a nationally recognized community-based program for women with arthritis or limited mobility, “Operation Change.” It teaches healthy choices and that “movement is medicine” over 18 weeks and was launched for the first time in a rural community in the nation in Perry County.

Gov. Bevin Announces Launch of 'Hope and Help' Initiative to Combat Substance Use Disorder

Frankfort, Ky. – Gov. Matt Bevin today announced a new statewide public awareness effort to continue the Commonwealth's historic momentum in combating the opioid epidemic. The Governor's Office, in collaboration with the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet's (JPSC) Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), is launching the "Hope and Help" initiative to provide vital resources to individuals struggling with substance use disorder.

The initiative was announced at the 2019 "Walk for Recovery" — a celebration that featured more than 300 individuals who are winning their battles against addiction marching to the State Capitol building in Frankfort.

“As we continue our unrelenting fight against substance use disorder, we want to ensure that all Kentuckians have ready access to both HOPE and HELP,” said Gov. Bevin. “Our Administration remains committed to strong partnership with legislators, law enforcement officers and healthcare professionals, as we allocate unprecedented resources to combat this scourge and save lives. Even as we make historic progress against this insidious enemy, we must stand united to deliver both HOPE and HELP, supporting families and communities fighting to break the cycle of addiction."

A new user-friendly, interactive website — — features powerful testimonials of hope and links to real-time access to help through Kentucky-based addiction treatment providers.

“This administration has poured unprecedented resources into fighting the opioid crisis, and we’ve made tremendous breakthroughs that have saved hundreds of lives,” said Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley. “But we still have work to do. We want every family in the Commonwealth to know hope and help is available through these resources. Recovery is possible — and it’s happening every day across our state.”

This new initiative follows the Commonwealth's previous "Don't Let Them Die" campaign, which saw Kentucky make significant strides in fighting the opioid epidemic. In July, ODCP announced that drug overdose fatalities by Kentuckians decreased by nearly 15 percent (233 fewer deaths) from 2017 to 2018 — the first such decline since 2013.

“We must build on our momentum and continue to spread the word,” said Van Ingram, director of the Office of Drug Control Policy. “We want to empower every Kentucky citizen with the knowledge and resources to combat this crisis within the home and on the ground. Hope is here and we are ready to help.”

Over the past three and a half years, the Bevin Administration has made attacking the opioid crisis a top priority, advancing a series of programs and policy initiatives to improve access to treatment and save lives.

Gov. Bevin and the General Assembly have significantly increased funding for the state’s drug response efforts, allocating a record $79 million over the past two budget cycles.
The Governor and lawmakers also collaborated on House Bill 333, which limits opioid prescriptions for acute pain to a three-day supply unless a doctor provides written justification for a larger amount.

Last year, the Kentucky State Police launched the Angel Initiative. Anyone suffering from a substance use disorder can now visit a KSP post and be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program. The Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) is currently undertaking a comprehensive overhaul of substance abuse programming, incorporating additional tools and options for clinicians and inmates. DOC is hiring additional treatment clinicians to provide services both inside and outside prison walls, and is providing dedicated treatment staff at Probation and Parole offices.

In April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded more than $87 million for Kentucky CAN HEAL (Communities and Networks Helping End Addiction Long-term) — a partnership between the University of Kentucky’s Center on Drug and Alcohol Research (CDAR), the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. The project will fund a comprehensive four-year study
aimed at reducing opioid overdose deaths by 40 percent in 16 counties that represent more than one-third of Kentucky’s population.

The Kentucky Opioid Response Effort (KORE), administered by CHFS is implementing a targeted response to Kentucky’s opioid crisis by expanding access to a full continuum of high quality, evidence-based opioid prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services and supports in high-risk geographic regions of the state.

In addition to the resources available at, individuals seeking support can call 1-8338-KYHELP.

UK Values 'connection’ with Eastern Kentucky, President Says

Lexington, KY. - The president of the University of Kentucky says the university’s eyes are firmly fixed on Eastern Kentucky and that some of the school’s best-prepared students come from the region.

In a recent interview with the Appalachian News-Express, UK President Dr. Eli Capilouto said students from Eastern Kentucky are among the best-prepared, hardest-working students who attend the university.

“I think there is, on our side, the commitment and devotion to students’ success,” he said. “There’s a recognition that students come with different levels of preparation and we’re introducing more and more ways to support students and be where they are and not just asking them to come be where we are.

To read more from the interview with Dr. Capilouto, check out the full article published by Appalachian News-Express.

SPEDA to Partner With SCC to Offer Employee Training Opportunities

Following through on its commitment to enhance workforce development by offering soft-skills training to local employees, the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) has partnered with Somerset Community College’s Workforce Solutions program to provide four free employee training opportunities this fall.

Taught by instructors Eric Wooldridge and Emily Conley, these classes focus on important interpersonal skills — communication, team-building, problem-solving, leadership and work ethic — that are vital to successful collaboration in the workplace.

“Developing our workforce is crucial to economic growth,” said Chris Girdler, SPEDA president and CEO. “SPEDA has a great interest in helping educate and train skilled employees to ensure businesses have the manpower they need to be successful. As a certified Kentucky Work Ready Community, it is important to maintain our commitment to providing the highly-skilled workforce required in today’s competitive global economy.”

The fall employee training workshop series at SCC targets skills in team building, customer relationships and communication. Each class is four hours (1-5 p.m.) on its respective date, will be limited to the first 25 participants, and offered free of charge. Classes include:

Building Team Pride and Purpose, Sept. 26 — When team members feel pride in what they do and have a clear sense of purpose, they begin to anticipate success. This leadership seminar helps participants explore ways to unleash the power of pride and purpose in their teams.

LEADing Customer Service, Oct. 24 — In this session participants will learn the importance of LEADing Customer Service in the workplace. Customer service is ever-changing just as our customers are ever-changing. This model keeps us relevant and uses a combination of critical thinking, self-motivation and peer accountability to change the culture of customer service. Participants will strengthen key skills associated with customer service and be given award-winning tools to adopt in their individual areas of service.

Generational Communication for Business Leaders, Nov. 21 — Based on research and historic cultural data, along with educational trends and responses, this training will provide you with the information and insight you need to open the lines of communication and the best practices in reaching your performance and retention goals. Workforce mentality, ethics, and overall goals have changed greatly over the past five decades, and business leaders that wish to excel in their industry need to have an understanding of these changes and be capable of adapting.

Speaking to Influence Others, Dec. 12 — The purpose of this seminar is to provide participants with speaking techniques and strategies that achieve business results by gaining the attention, ensuring the understanding, and influencing the actions of other people.

For more information or to register, contact SCC Workforce Solution’s Kelly Strunk at (606) 451-6692 or email

New Kentucky Public Health Commissioner to Speak at Appalachian Research Day

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HAZARD, Ky.   Kentucky’s newly appointed Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Angela T. Dearinger will speak at the fifth annual Appalachian Research Day: Come Sit on the Porch. The University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) hosts this one-day event each year to bring attention to health disparities research in Appalachia. Appalachian Research Day will be held Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the First Federal Center in Hazard. Registration for the event closes Sept. 12. Click here to register or to view the full agenda.

Originally from Paintsville Kentucky, Dearinger is board-certified in internal medicine, pediatrics, public health and general preventive medicine. She is assistant dean of accreditation with the Graduate Medical Education office and an associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine in the UK College of Medicine, was appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin as Kentucky’s Public Health Commissioner effective Sept. 1.

Dearinger has been a member of the UK College of Medicine faculty since 2007. In addition to her roles in the college, she also is  associate chief of staff for education managing the Lexington VA Health Care System’s medical, dental and health profession trainees.

“We are truly honored to have Dr. Dearinger join us this year at Appalachian Research Day," said Dr. Fran Feltner, director of the UK CERH. "She is a native of Appalachia and has a tremendous background and knowledge of the complex health issues we face in Appalachia and rural Kentucky.”

Appalachian Research Day is an opportunity to highlight community-based research that begins at the local level and builds upon relationships between people, neighborhoods, and groups who have common interests and concerns.

Highlights of this year’s conference include:

  • Understanding and Improving Health: Lessons from Kentucky and America’s Poorest State, by Randy Wycoff, Dean, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University

  • Health Disparities in Hard to Reach Populations: A Community Health Worker Perspective, Kentucky Homeplace CHW Panel

  • A Regional Approach to Improving Health Outcomes in the Kentucky River Area Development District, Scott Lockard, director, Kentucky River District Health Department

  • Leveraging Strengths and Assets to Improve Health and Well-Being in Appalachia, Mike Meit, co-director, NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis

  • Operation Change Perry County, featuring an Operation Change Participant Panel moderated by Keisha Hudson, research assistant, UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health

  • More than 20 research posters on a variety of health topics will be presented and judged. Winners will be announced during lunch.

  • Lunch entertainment will feature Appalachian Storytelling by drama students from Knott County High School, Johnson County High School and Hazard Independent High School.

Click here to register or to view the full agenda. For more information, contact, 606-439-3557.

U.S. News Ranks Alice Lloyd College Among Top in the Nation

U.S. News and World Report’s 2020 Edition of Best Colleges ranked Alice Lloyd College among the top colleges in the nation! Nationally, among all colleges and universities, Alice Lloyd College was ranked:

  • #9 among all college and universities for selectivity with an acceptance rate of 8 %, and

  • #6 for alumni giving rate (48% for the fiscal year 2018-2019).

The Report also ranked Alice Lloyd College:

  • #1 among all Regional Colleges and Universities for alumni giving rate (48% for the fiscal year 2018-2019),

  • #3 on the list of Best Value Schools among Southern Regional Colleges.

  • Top 15 in the South for Social Mobility

  • #21 overall among Best Regional Colleges South.

U.S. News and World Report evaluates institutions based on several standards including academic quality and financial statistics. When asked about ALC’s ranking, President Joe Stepp said, “For over 100 years, we have continued the mission of Alice Lloyd by educating the brightest and best of Appalachia.  To be recognized among the top colleges in the nation is humbling. The U.S. News and World Report rankings are a testament to the work being done by our faculty, staff, and students as we continue to educate leaders for our region.”

Over one hundred years ago, Mrs. Lloyd made it her mission to educate the children of Appalachia by offering a high-quality, affordable, character-based education so students could earn a degree regardless of financial ability. Alice Lloyd College, a Grassroots Partner of SOAR, is grateful to the devoted faculty, staff, and wonderful friends from across the country who continue to make ALC’s educational opportunities possible.