HAZARD — A summit and working lunch was held at Hazard Community and Technical College on June 21 to discuss federal funding and collaboration opportunities in Southeast Kentucky. Among the funding opportunities mentioned at the summit were the Promise Zone and USDA programs, AML, PowerPlus and ARC. Experts were present to lead talks on ways Southeast Kentucky communities can come together and make the most of funding opportunities that are currently on the table. Perry County is part of the Promise Zone. However, a set amount of Promise Zone money is not automatically reserved for each designated county. Instead, counties must compete for the money by developing strategies for the funding’s usage. This could prove to be a vital step toward economic stimulation, considering the fact that Perry County’s government is facing major budget issues that could have drastic effects on the local economy.
This summit was the first of its kind held at the college during the administration of new HCTC President, Dr. Jennifer Lindon. Lindon greeted the crowd of nearly 80 people and, during her address, highlighted the importance of Appalachian communities uniting in this effort, not only to relieve local economic pains, but also to grow in a chance for competition on a global, and much more fruitful, level. Ron Daley and Paul Green with the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative gave presentations on the importance education is playing in local economic development. Several quotes from attendees of the summit are posted on the KVEC Twitter page.
“It’s good to see East Kentuckians gather to talk about bettering the region. I know we’re going to focus on collaboration today,” said Nick Camick, who is a representative with the office of Congressman Hal Rogers.
AML Director Bob Scott said, “We have an opportunity to combine entrepreneurial spirit with how we solve the problems of our abandoned mines.”
Bob Scott also said that Abandoned Mine Land funds are available to city and county governments if they have proper methods of securing them. The application for Kentucky AML money is now a simple three page template, with no deadline for applications at this time.
The purpose of the summit was to gather community advocates together with funders and experts, in hope that a plan could be developed for Southeast Kentucky to secure available money as a coalition. Obtaining much of the funding that is available will require hard work and innovative actions, not only from civic organizations, but also from local governments.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.