During a recent meeting of the Harlan Chamber of Commerce local officials, business leaders and individuals were complimented for their attendance at the SOAR conference held in Pikeville recently.
Harlan Tourist Commission and Harlan Center Executive-Director Brandon Pennington, who attended the conference and was on the “Youth Leading the Way” panel, said in regard to tourism in the region there were a lot of different suggestions having to do with forestry and other assets counties have and how to tie all this together.
“What they kept hitting on during one session was food and how this region needs a Paula Deen of eastern Kentucky,” said Pennington. “I found this kind of interesting. I know they are working on a bon appe′tit Appalachian map. They’re going to start highlighting local and regional foods.”
Chamber committee member Dan Mosley, who also attended the event, said he was “worried” before the conference was held that “it was not going to have a true benefit to the entire region.” He said after the conference was over he didn’t feel that way.
“I felt like this was really a regional initiative that was going to tie all of us together,” said Mosley. “There was a lot of talk that day about blurring the county lines, blurring the regional difference, blurring the city versus city within a county and those type of things.”
Mosley said Harlan County has been trying to get a 3.5 stretch of road (U.S. 421) completed for the past 10 to 15 years to the Virginia line. “Now the folks in Virginia are being real aggressive about funding their side of it from Pennington Gap to the Harlan County line,” said Mosley. “I did point out the need for that. We need a north/south connector so that the rest of the region can do business with us and we can do business with the rest of the region.”
Mosley went on to say he also proposed a natural gas severance tax during the conference. He added when local meetings are held he encourages everyone to participate and become involved in the SOAR initiative.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, firstname.lastname@example.org