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Bell County Promise Zone Community Forum

What do you see as the assets and strengths of this community and the region?

Local government and community organizations work together effectively

Natural resources

            Geologically unique characteristics

            Natural beauty

            Timber, natural gas, oil coal

            A state park

            Fish and wildlife resources

Lots of tourists visit this community and the region producing a $3 million impact just on Bell County

            A national park

            Diverse outdoor recreation opportunities

            Adventure tourism

            Historic and cultural tourism sites

            Pine Mountain State Park now sells liquor

Rapidly improving downtowns

US 25

Stable property values

            Some housing stock available

            There is land available for different types of uses

Low cost of living

Artists, crafts persons and plenty of talented people in the county and the region

            Small theater in Pineville

Trained and trainable work force

            We do have some industries

            We have a community college

            We have access to a private 4 year college

            There is are medical schools within easy distance

We have a pool of entrepreneurs and there is an entrepreneurial spirit in the community

            There is an attitude of the possibility of change

Access to health care with 2 hospitals in the county

We have had a measurable amount of population growth over the last 10 years and have added 200 new families to our community

Our youth are committed to this community

            The community supports youth achievements

 

What are the challenges facing this community and the region?

Lack of legal county wide alcohol sales

Lack of knowledge of what services, products and opportunities are available in the county and region

The stereotypes of the region and the people who live here -- both those imposed on us by outsiders as well as those that we have accepted as describing us

Transportation limitations, in particular, the road mileage distance among the 8 counties in the Promise Zone

We need more tourist attractions but more importantly, we need the infrastructure to capture the value of these tourists

            Need an RV park

            Need a full service camp ground

Need to replace the business travelers who came because of the coal industry with new visitors to our hotels

Loss of work ethic

Loss of hope

            The loss of one coal job leads to the loss of between 4-7 other types of job

There has always been a trickle down effect in money, attitudes, and employment opportunities for this region

There are 1,000 people who work in Bell County but don't live here

The north/south division in eastern Kentucky has tended to lead to competition, but is also an opportunity to learn from each other

When new dollars arrive, the cooperation that is going on among the counties of the Promise Zone will disappear as all 8 counties seek to gain as much of the funds as they can for themselves

Our schools have faced a loss of tax base and state funding and therefore the extras that enable a school to do more for students

            Loss of faith in the value of education as a way to improve one's life

 

What are some short term projects (0-24 months to complete or to initiate)?

Small business boot camp based on a program in Marion Virginia where grants are provided to jump start a business for those who complete the boot camp

            $500,000 to create 25 new businesses and 100 new jobs

Tourism attractions and infrastructure

            RV campground

            Canopy zip line tour

Chair lift from downtown Pineville to Chain of Rocks - there already is a plan for this, only need funding to develop

Live drama at Pine Mountain State Park

Place to launch canoes on the river and place to rent canoes and to have livery services

 

What are some mid-term projects (24-48 months to complete or initiate)?

Physical fitness center as described by youth during youth focus group

Develop biomass energy for public facilities to reduce fuel load in the national forest and increase renewable energy use

  

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