Rickett discusses SOAR initiative with chamber

Nola Sizemore Staff Writer

November 17, 2013

Shannon Rickett, a representative from U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers office, spoke with members of the Harlan Chamber of Commerce recently asking members of the community for their support and attendance to a one-day regional summit to launch SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) designed to begin to “frame a new vision for southern and eastern Kentucky’s future.”

Set to begin at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 9 at the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center in Pikeville, Rickett said Rogers and Gov. Steve Beshear are “seeking unity of purpose — collaborative action by businesses, nonprofits, foundations, financial institutions, educational institutions, state and local governments and young leaders, to create a long-term plan to ensure the region can grow and prosper.”

“Registration is now open,” said Rickett. “This is a difficult time for our region. This (summit) is a time for great opportunity for us to move ahead and make our economy what it needs to be. This new effort, the SOAR initiative, Congressman Rogers and Gov. Beshear are teaming up to help our region and our state through this economic disaster. They want everyone’s voices and ideas to be heard. We’ve got to focus on overcoming the odds and not be defeated by the challenges.”

Danielle Smoot, district communications coordinator with Rogers’s office, said the U.S.Department of Agriculture -Rural Development and the ARC are listed as sponsors of the initiative and summit. She said they are also helping pay for the work being done by the Rural Policy Research Institute, which is helping to organize SOAR.

The planning committee was chosen by Beshear and Rogers and represents the members of various sectors, successful job creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, along with some younger members to help plan the summit and keep the vision going beyond the summit.

Those chosen for the committee to represent Harlan County were Bruce Ayers, retired Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College System president, and Lanola Parsons, Harlan civic leader and entrepreneur.

To register for the summit you may visit https://kydlgweb.ky.gov/ or you may call Lynn Littrell at 1-502-573-2382 or email at lynn.littrell@ky.gov.

Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, nsizemore@civitasmedia.com