- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Officials in eastern Kentucky are preparing to hold a second Appalachian summit at the East Kentucky Exposition Center in Pikeville.

The Appalachian News-Express (https://bit.ly/1JQilDU) reports the meeting will take place on Feb. 16 and will focus on implementing strategies for growth.

More than 1,000 people attended the original summit held in 2013 after Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced the initiative called SOAR, Shaping Our Appalachian Region. The aim of SOAR is to find solutions to problems facing the region and bolster and diversify the economy.

“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 Jared Arnett, director for SOAR.

“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.”

Arnett said sessions are designed to dig into topics that can help communities grow or improve quality of life. Topics include high speed broadband, local food, rural industry and entrepreneurship. Some speakers come from other states with ideas that could be replicated; others will delve into projects that are already happening in the region.

Beshear and Rogers are expected to attend the upcoming meeting, and Arnett said anyone who wants to be part of the solution is invited to attend. He said that could include entrepreneurs, students, volunteers, parents, elected officials, employers, educators and community leaders.

“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.

Interested parties can find out more and register online at www.soar-ky.org .

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Information from: Appalachian News-Express, https://www.news-expressky.com


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