Press Releases

SOAR Summit to Develop Regional Strategies for Growth

Make plans to attend second annual public summit in Pikeville Feb. 16

PIKEVILLE, Ky.  (Jan. 21, 2015) – After an ambitious first year of mobilizing support and cataloguing visions for the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative, Governor Steve Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers and SOAR executive director Jared Arnett announced the second annual SOAR Summit will accelerate work to implement strategies for growth in eastern Kentucky communities.

Everyone with an interest in the region’s long-term development is invited to attend the Summit, titled “Creating Our Future: Regional Strategies for Growth and Development.” The Summit will be held at the East Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.  Online registration is available now

“This summit is about defining tactics – how do we get to our next goals in workforce readiness, in education, in health, in attracting business – and then identifying the groups or individuals who are committed to getting us there,” said Arnett. “Since the first Summit, more than 2,500 citizens concerned with our region have given input into our plan.  Through the leadership of our Working Groups, we have developed a robust, detailed vision for our region, and I’m looking forward to collectively putting our plan to work this year.”

Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers launched the SOAR initiative a little over a year ago.  Both will attend the Summit.

“SOAR has targeted the most promising paths for success of this vital region, and we have attracted national attention because of the grassroots nature of the SOAR effort,” said Gov.  Beshear. “This initiative has always been driven by the people of eastern Kentucky. This is collaborative work, and our upcoming summit will help shape strategies to grow our economy, challenge our families and strengthen our communities.” 

“It’s time to plan our work and work our plan for the next phase of SOAR,” said Congressman Rogers. “We have several transformational projects to celebrate in our first year alone, from the broadband initiative to the expansion of the Mountain Parkway. However, we are in a marathon and SOAR’s Strategy Summit will give us a chance to chart the course forward for job creation, agricultural opportunities, tourism improvements and all the facets that make our region a great place to work and raise a family.”

Arnett designed the summit’s sessions to delve into topics that have potential to grow communities or improve quality of life in the region, such as high speed broadband, local food, rural industry and entrepreneurship.  Some speakers will represent other states or regions with successes that may be replicated in eastern Kentucky, while others will discuss work currently underway in the region.

Who Should Attend

Everyone who wants to be part of the SOAR Solution, including entrepreneurs, students, volunteers, non-profit employees, local government employees, parents, elected officials, employers, educators and community leaders, is invited to attend the second SOAR Summit. 

“We need everyone’s commitment to grow our communities and work together as a region, so we want as many voices as possible at our upcoming Summit,” said Arnett.

The Summit is designed to help citizens and community leaders:

·         learn how to work together with other organizations and communities to have collective impact while maintaining local identity;

·         draw lessons from examples of success in communities who have taken this approach;

·         network with local, regional, state, and federal officials along with private industry leaders; and

·         improve community competitiveness for state and federal grants.

Wide-ranging agenda targets areas for successful growth

In December, Gov. Beshear and Congressman Rogers announced an ambitious plan to leverage private sector financing to build a high-speed broadband “backbone” throughout the state, beginning in eastern Kentucky, to deliver high-quality Internet access to every community.

The Summit’s first plenary session will focus on the impact of that project, particularly for economic development.

The day’s agenda also includes a series of breakout sessions on a broad range of topics identified as possible growth areas for Appalachian counties, including:

·         The Role of Coding in our Future

·         Engaging the Next Generation of Leaders

·         Preparing Tomorrow's Workforce Today

·         (Local) Food for Thought

·         Tourism, Arts, and Heritage as an Economic Driver

·         Recruiting Industry in Rural Communities

·         Building a Culture of Innovative Entrepreneurship

·         Prescription for Community Health

Visit for complete details about the Summit, including agenda, directions and hotel information.  Register online by Feb. 11 and pay only $10 for the daylong summit, which includes a box lunch.  You may also register onsite on the day of the event for $15.

Event Details

Second Annual SOAR Summit

Creating Our Future: Regional Strategies for Growth and Development

Monday, Feb. 16, 2015

Registration at 8 a.m., program runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

East Kentucky Expo Center
126 Main St.
Pikeville, Ky.