by Jerry Rickett
You don’t need another person telling you the challenges facing Eastern Kentucky. You’ve either read the stories, or, if you reside in the region, you witness them every day.
Now is the time to focus on opportunity, assets and collaboration. That’s where we’ll begin as we lead and administer the recently announced federal Promise Zone, which is comprised of Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay, Knox counties and part of Whitley County.
This eight-county area in Southeastern Kentucky was named one of only five Promise Zones in the country. The initiative will give the area a competitive advantage in applying for federal grants as well as additional assistance from various federal agencies that oversee housing, education, economic development, agriculture and safety. Those agencies also will provide increased coordination to help the counties maximize federal and private investment.
The eight communities have agreed to allow KHIC to act as the coordinating entity to marshal resources, which will allow regional solutions rather than narrowly viewing the problem within a single county. This is an important step that will more effectively utilize resources and assets that have already been committed to the Promise Zone.