I love Appalachia Kentucky. I love the place, the people and the opportunity that lies here. From the people to the majestic mountains and valleys and to many partners, it’s a great time to be a part of the transformation taking place.
As I look back on the year, I think about the sheer power of people and how our passion has driven action, innovation and collaboration to achieve goals that will impact our generation and generations to come.
From record jobs announcements and new investments, to the work to collectively write a new narrative of innovation, we are indeed building a 21st century Appalachia together.
We worked to implement our regional blueprint. It is not only a plan, it is a vision cast through the input of more than 3,000 people across the region and 10 working groups. The plan, which can be read at www.soar-ky.org, outlines seven specific areas of work that we believe will lead to lasting and meaningful change in the region.
Those are: broadband, 21st century workforce, healthy communities, small business, industrial development, regional foods and tourism.
Through the work of SOAR and our partners, we are seeing collaboration across city and county lines, spanning generations and passions.
From Gov. Matt Bevin and Congressman Hal Rogers to our partners on the ground in communities across Appalachia, we’re building a network of thousands of people who believe. The unity of our people is what makes progress possible.
We’ve stayed the course. We’ve believed when others quit. We’ve believed in something greater than ourselves — that is faith — and have worked passionately and purposefully toward lasting and effective change — that is grit.
I’m thankful to know that together, we are tackling a challenge that many believe is insurmountable. Nothing can overcome our faith, our grit, and our common desire to build a 21st century Appalachia.
Jared Arnett is executive director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc.