Jan 09 2014
WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) applauds Southeastern Kentucky's Promise Zone designation awarded by the President to the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation to address economic needs in eight counties. Congressman Rogers was invited to the White House for the announcement, along with Kentucky Highlands President and CEO Jerry Rickett, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul.
"I'm glad the Administration has finally awakened to the economic problems that are facing Southern and Eastern Kentucky due to the coal job losses. This is one of several awards that I hope to see headed our way in concert with the SOAR initiative, to help in 'Shaping Our Appalachian Region,'" said Rogers. "This program shows promise for recruiting private industry in several of our hard-hit counties. And what a great way to celebrate Kentucky Highlands' 45th anniversary. With Jerry Rickett at the helm, this organization has a proven track record of bringing thousands of jobs to our region, and helping entrepreneurs launch their businesses and grow our economy."
Southeastern Kentucky was selected as one of the first five Promise Zones and serves as the only rural region in the nation to receive the designation. The Promise Zone includes Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay, Knox, and part of Whitley County. The population is restricted to a maximum of 200,000 people.
The first five Zones, located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, have each put forward a plan on how they will partner with local business and community leaders to make investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity. In exchange, these designees will receive the resources and flexibility they need to achieve their goals.
Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation plans to create jobs and grow small businesses by leveraging $1.3 million of private sector funds in a revolving loan fund targeted within the Promise Zone. The organization plans to create leadership and entrepreneur training for youth and industry-specific re-training opportunities for the local skilled workforce, by partnering with the University of Kentucky Economic Development Initiative and the East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program. To ensure all youth have access to a high-quality education, Berea College will run evidence-based college and career readiness programs for high school students in the Promise Zone, while Eastern Kentucky University will expand technical education programs.
A total of 20 Promise Zones will be announced over the next three years.