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Whitley County Promise Zone Community Forum 

What are the assets or strengths of this community and/or the region?

Location just off I-75

       Access to two airports (Corbin and Williamsburg)

       Within driving distance of two major airports

       Central to several large cities

       Access to I 75 (2)

       On the interstate

       Good within county road system

       Location - center of eastern US

Lots of empty buildings and land to build. All available at reasonable cost

       Room for growth

       Access to a railroad

       Adequate water

       Cheap utilities

       Whitley is part of a 6 county industrial park

       Some industrial plant but not enough

Community hospital and considerable health resources

       Senior Citizens Center

       Two home health agencies

       3 nursing homes

       An assisted living facility


Large work force regionally and in the county

       People who want to work

       Young people willing to work

       Work ethic of the people

       Our people are willing to work

       Workforce that has many technical and crafts trained workers

       Trainable work force

Educational opportunities from pre-K to college

       EKU and the University of the Cumberlands provide education and technical training

       72% of those age 25+ are high school graduates


Natural beauty

       Natural resources (coal and timber)

       Natural assets




Progressive city and county governments that work together

       People are strong minded and willing to work together to get to an end result      

Lots of community-based organizations

       Strong community and family bonds

       Extension Office

       Extension well established

Vibrant agricultural sector

       Award winning Farmer's Market

       Farmer's Market (2)

       Agriculture elements

       Agricultural potential


       Local food system

Lots of agricultural volunteer organizations (Goat Association, Beekeeper Association, Master Gardener Association, Southeast KY Vegetable Cooperative, Cattlemen's Association

Have a strong and supportive Extension Service in Whitley County and at the University of Kentucky

Significant tourism infrastructure

       Cumberland Falls State Park

       Laurel Lake

       Water Park

       Four community parks

       7,000 seat arena in Corbin


Financially accessible housing

Low cost of living

Low wage base

Cultural heritage

Strong minded people with a rich unique culture that’s deeply rooted in the area

Strong culture

Historical significance

Services to support working people such as daycare, gym, college, schools, religious organizations


What are the challenges facing Whitley County and/or the region?

If we do nothing, the county will continue down the path it has. I believe there will be an increase in retail stores with a decrease in employee salary percentage versus the nation. Since 2009, the population has dropped in Whitley County by 10%


       Defeatist attitudes

Anti-education attitudes - a belief that education can lower your opportunity to get into some programs

Education is seen as being opposed to our culture

       Culture of entitlement

Getting cities and counties to work together

No one encourages city-community involvement

Lack of job diversity within the community and the region

       More diverse job opportunities

       Lack of multiple opportunities in the job market

       Lack of jobs for college graduates

       Lack of jobs (6)

       Jobs are a big concern

       Work/job opportunities

       Limited number of high tech professionals within the community and the region

       Lack of individual diversity within the community and the region

       Lack of industry (2)

       Lack incentives to recruit industries

       Lack of businesses

Lack of skilled workers

Need job training opportunities, ie apprentice programs for plumbing, electrical and mechanical

Poor wage levels attached to jobs

       Working folks can't afford to have kids

       No money to spend

Poverty level

       Poverty (2)

       The cycle of poverty trapping families

            Poverty cycle

            Breaking the cycle of poverty

The difference in the wages that people can earn in the county and region versus the level of assistance they can receive if they don't work

Entitlement society

            Poverty culture (2)

       Not self reliant - depend on disability and food stamps

            People not being dependent on the system - they need to become more self-reliant

            Welfare abuse      

Local and state tax environment

       Lack of money

       Workers comp reputation


Lack of housing

       Much in not appealing for middle and upper income families

       Poor quality housing

       Lack of available rental housing

Lack of access to affordable and comprehensively available broadband Internet and cell phone service

Cell phone service is very poor and actually is better at Cumberland Falls State Park than in the rest of the county because they have an independent contractor

Lack of affordable and geographically comprehensive broadband limits business development and recruitment as well as education


Limited Internet access (3)

Lack of internet access

No high speed Internet

No dependable Internet

Cell and Internet access

Drug abuse and the crimes related to this

       Drugs and crime from drugs

       Drug culture -- it's too easy to obtain drugs

       Drugs (4)

       Drug abuse

       Drug rate and the crimes related to drugs

Drug dependence and associated problems, e.g., thefts to buy drugs

Lack of concern about medical conditions

       Poor health of population

       Child abuse

       Child welfare

Getting the best and the brightest of our youth to come back or to stay

       Getting best & brightest to stay

Access to quality foods

Getting people outside the county and the region overlooking the statistics about the region and just getting them here and taking a chance

Children and teens have nothing positive to do

High drop out rate

       Need more educated people

       Low literacy rates

Know how

We are a dry county

Lack of shopping so people go to Lexington and Knoxville


Imagine it is 10 years from now. Describe how you hope that Whitley County and/or the region would be different.

I would like to see Whitley as a place people would want to vacation and a place where people could live and support their family

We would be a self-reliant and sustainable (economically, energy, agriculture) as a county which would bring more jobs and keep them in the county

More permanent jobs (2)

More jobs - long-term career types of jobs

       Higher employment

       More attractive to college graduates

       More career professional and technical jobs

       More high tech jobs

       More jobs that are not dependent on government contracts

       Jobs with benefits (2)

       More jobs (2)

       Job opportunities for farmers

       More good paying jobs

Whitley County and the region would be at the national median family income

Less poverty

       We would be growing in population and jobs

       Diverse employment

We would have a diversity of small manufacturing in different economic sectors in Whitley County and the region

       We would be a manufacturing hub

       We would have manufacturing that adds value to our forest products

       We would have a hemp processing plant

       We would have more food processing plants (hogs, beef, poultry)

       We would not be dependent on coal but using alternative energy

Many small industrial companies employing a lot of people

Industrial jobs

Increased [high school] graduation rate (3)

       Sports rivalries need to be left to Friday nights

       There would be a greater emphasis on youth work readiness

       100% graduation rate from high school

Drug free community and region

       No drug

       Less drug related crimes

       Safe community

       Drugs are gone

       Less drugs

       Less crime

Drug rehabilitation treatment available within the county

Right now, adults have to travel 5 hrs to access rehabilitation services and youth have to travel 1.5 hours

Drug treatment here (2)

Available treatment for drug rehab

Halfway house to allow those in rehab to work and get on their feet - the ones really serious about changing their lives

Downtown buildings will be full and renovated

       Clean community

       Quaint community

       Quaint looking town with all the benefits of technology

Nice site down restaurants


       Better places to eat

       Unique local restaurants

       Restaurants serving local schools

Water and sewers provided to all

       Mandatory garbage pick-up

Better tourism that capitalizes on our natural beauty without exploiting it

       Increase tourism attractions

       This would be a place people want to visit


       Tourist destination

Seniors (persons 65+) would want to move here for the quality of life

       There would be more support services for retirees

Need a better senior attraction for senior citizens to want to come back home

More retirees returning to live here      

Full use of our agricultural lands

       Local and regional restaurants would be serving locally grown foods

       Strong food systems

       Locally grown, healthful food easily available

       Hemp would be grown as a cash crop

Affordable child care would be available throughout the county and the region

More housing choice

Access to affordable Internet

We would have a family recreation center

       Family center

       Recreation Center

       Pocket parks

       Biking paths

We would have new attitude that change is good

There would be a level of increased political involvement by young people

We would have broken the poverty cycle


What are obstacles the region and your county have to overcome to move forward?

Lack of money

       Money (5)


Regionally, working together

       Everyone needs to work together

       Got to be regional

       Need to be regional (2)

       We are competitive but in a negative way

Regionalization - Corbin, Williamsburg and London all need to work together instead of the competition of each town

Regional jealousies

Geographic restraints

Attitudes - "It'll never happen here"

       Defeatist attitudes

        Resistance to change

        "Why Bother?" attitude


       No vision

       Opening minds to what is out there - the possibilities

       Need to be creative

       Don't be afraid to fail

       Closed minds


       People afraid of change

       Settling for less

       We don't play well together

Overcoming statistics

       Perception of the area as a drug haven


       Helping others realize we are more than coal

       Reluctance of companies to move here      

Regional diet


Not enough hours in the day

       Can only volunteer so much - need more paid folks to address issues


Lack of jobs


Other comments

To retain existing businesses and jobs, we need:

To get involved with the businesses. Find out what they would like to see from us as a county. Maybe connecting them with colleges to help with projects.

Companies would like to be recognized as a company of choice.

Maybe helping prepare employees for the work environment.

To attract new businesses and industries we need:

       Training and consulting

       Resources are a big expense. Offering a way to offset some of the costs of the resources

There are grants that are set up for businesses that have to meet a requirement. These requirements are too high for most eastern KY businesses

To create new businesses and jobs we need:

Training and consulting would be a big help. This would include business plans, sales planning, cash flow planning and more

In small businesses, most people are good at what they do. However, business is not something they may understand


Nearest elementary school to where you live

       Boston Elementary

3     Corbin Elementary

2     Oak Grove Elementary

       Pleasant View Elementary

       South Fork Christian Academy

2     Whitley Central Primary

2     Whitley County East Elementary

1     Whitley County North Elementary

5     Williamsburg Elementary

1     No answer

1     Whitley County High School

2     Corbin Middle School

What is your age group?

       Under 18

1     18-24

8     25-44

5     45-54

1     55-64

1     65+

2     No answer



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