MACED opens office in Hazard
by IVY BRASHEAR Staff Reporter
WABACO Even though Hazard-native Les Roll has only been working with MACED since January, he admits that social justice runs deep in his family. This isnt a stretch considering his mother, Gerry, is the executive director of the Community Foundation of Hazard and Perry County, and now that he is Project Specialist at the brand new MACED office in Hazard.
MACED, which stands for Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development, is a Berea-based organization that lists its mission as helping community members in Central Appalachia improve and grow their own communities.
There are several ways in which MACED accomplishes this goal, but what Roll will be focusing on out of the Hazard office is enterprise development, or helping small, locally-owned businesses start and keep growing.
MACED has always done work in this area, Roll said. We just felt like it was a good time to increase visibility here and that was sort of the catalyst behind [having an office in Hazard].
He said having an office in Hazard allows MACED to have staff in the region that will be more visible and physically present, allowing the organization to be more involved in the region permanently.
Were certainly invested in eastern Kentucky and central Appalachia in every possible aspect of that term, Roll said, adding that there will be 14 counties served by the Hazard office which boarders the counties served by both the Berea and Paintsville MACED offices. He said the other offices would also be able to take advantage of the Hazard offices location and use it as a base of operations if necessary.
Roll will be doing enterprise development work out of the Hazard office, he said. This means he will be working to lend money to local businesses both large and small as well as start-up businesses. He will also be helping these businesses who have been lent money with on-going concerns to help them make a difference in their communities.
He said enterprise development was a term assigned to a slew of duties they would be carrying out at the Hazard office, including job creation, bringing new services and businesses to the area and helping communities become diverse and well-rounded.
(We will be) helping to make sure that our communities have the things that they need to not only survive, but to thrive and to change and be the communities that they want to be, Roll said.
He said having a MACED office in Hazard was very important to the goals of the organization and also to help communities in the region grow. He said it was vital to become an actual physical part of the community instead of being an outside entity.
Weve always been invested here, both on a very personal level as well as on an organizational level, Roll said. This just allows us to be more up-front about that.
He said he believes being physically in the community will allow MACED to provide more people and businesses with loans and support the communities in the region in greater depth, which he said was the whole goal of what MACED tries to accomplish.
He said most of the businesses they loan money to are small, with maybe five to 10 employees, and that they try to give loans to businesses that will enhance the economic diversity of a place.
(Giving loans to small businesses) is a very direct and visceral impact on the communities to be able to see these businesses flourish and what that means for the local communities, Roll said.
He said beyond enterprise development, all the other aspects of MACED as an organization will be working out of the Hazard office as well, just not full-time.
As an example, he said MACEDs E3 energy efficiency enterprise projects certified energy manager will be coming to Hazard to provide energy audits to businesses in the region so those business owners will know how to reduce energy costs.
The office has been opened in Wabaco for two weeks, and already Roll said he is ready to begin work in local communities.
Im anxious to meet a lot of the people in the local communities across my service area to get to know them and to see what we might be able to achieve together, he said. He added that MACED employees and the business owners they help often maintain personal relationships after loans have been given out, remaining in contact to let MACED know how well they are doing as a result of the loan they were given.
Those relationships are important to Roll, who said MACED is constantly trying to strengthen communities from within by allowing those living in communities to take the lead.
We want to see these communities flourish and we want to see them succeed in every possible way, Roll said. Part of that is making these communities able to have these businesses and the type of businesses they would like to have and help support (them).
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