A guiding light for many are the wise words of the ancient writer in Proverbs: Where there is no vision, the people perish.
So it is with a community. London/Laurel County has a long history of perceiving what it is, and considering what it might be.
This area's diverse economy has withstood these most recent challenging times. Business, industry, the school system, health care and agriculture have continued to provide jobs and income.
Civic engagement has been paramount in sustaining growth. Whether a homeless shelter or a job training center, from call center to cutting edge medical technology, from promoting our incredible outdoors through tourism to our downtown and its businesses, we have been blessed with volunteers, parents, community leaders and public officials who have our community as a top priority.
Sometimes we can be our worst enemy when we pick at one another, but much as a family, when we all work together for the greater good, more progress is made.
That willingness to work together has allowed our community to achieve the success we have and to look forward to a bright future, which will come through continued cooperation and collaborative effort. A team can accomplish more by working side by side, especially when no one cares who gets the credit. So it is when organizations and their leaders work together.
In the fall of 2011, London Downtown Inc., London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce, London-Laurel County Industrial Authority, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and The Sentinel-Echo newspaper banded together to provide a forum for discussing an in-depth study of community conditions. The basis of the discussion was Vision 20/20, an evaluation of community needs and priorities, done by the Chamber of Commerce. These groups convened a summit on Nov. 15, 2011 to discuss and prioritize its findings which focused on economic development, health, education and quality of life.
Since then, progress is being made on those goals. The city of London and London Downtown Inc. have focused on providing support and promotion for existing and new downtown businesses. Collaboration with the Laurel County Tourist Commission supports the Redbud Ride, recognized as one of Kentucky's premier bicycling events, with over 1,100 registrants from 22 states last April. During the warmer months, a monthly car show and weekly concert series bring families downtown. The Laurel County Board of Education has broken ground on a new vocational school/Career Readiness Center. In the past year over 2,675 jobs have come to London/Laurel County.
A children's theater group continues to produce high- quality productions, while the Laurel County Public Library is the host to many literature, music and art activities for children and adults each month, with over 211,000 visiting at all branches last year.
Blessed by location, access to good roads and the incredible people who live and work here, we strive to build on the work of those who came before and to leave a positive legacy to those coming after. We owe them our best efforts.
Jane Winkler Dyche of London is an attorney, civic activist on state and local levels and a former extension agent in nutrition education. She is a native of Bell County.