Highlights from the 2017 SOAR Summit

Teddy Paynter

PIKEVILLE — Nearly 1,250 people and more than 130 groups made their way inside the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center to take part in the 2017 Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Summit held on Aug. 4.


Here is a look at some of the highlights:


• Congressman Harold "Hal" Rogers and Governor Matt Bevin jointly announced a $200,000 grant for the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation for the Appalachian Regional Commission to help eastern Kentucky companies become ISO certified, which is generally required for government contracts.


• Congressman Rogers touched on a previous announcement of three grants totaling nearly $5 million to spur economic development in eastern Kentucky. The city of Prestonsburg has been given preliminary approval for $1.95 million towards the creation of the "Rails to Trails" project which will run from Prestonsburg to David. In addition, Royalton Trail Town, Inc., a project in Magoffin County, has been preliminarily approved as well for $1.9 million. It will be used for campsites and recreational area on a tract.


• University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari was the keynote speaker. He told those in attendance one of the first fundamentals of having a good team is teaching each player to be a good teammate. "The greatest thing about eastern Kentucky is you're about each other."


• Governor Bevin said people of eastern Kentucky are not afraid of getting their hands dirty when it comes to work. "What I love about the people of eastern Kentucky, you are hard workers. This is an area where people want to work."


• SOAR Executive Director Jared Arnett announced $10,000 in BB&T mini grants.


• Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton pitched the idea to create a new Country Music Highway 23 television channel. "We're going to work closely with Big Sandy Community and Technical College to teach students how to operate cameras, as well as technical and audio skills."


• It was announced that AppHarvest, which released plans earlier this year to build a greenhouse in Pikeville for growing tomatoes, will partner with Sunset Produce to distribute the harvest. It will be located at the Kentucky Enterprise Industrial Park. The tomatoes will be sold to local businesses.


•  Aerospace industry expansion in eastern Kentucky was discussed. It includes making parts for aviation and space flight. Matthew Satterwhite, president and chief operating officer for Kentucky Power, said attracting aerospace manufacturers brings with it the potential of creating much-needed jobs.