This year’s event attracted more than 1,200 attendees, representing:
- 16 states
- 60 Kentucky Counties
- Including 43 of Kentucky’s 54 Appalachian Counties
- More than 420 Businesses and Organizations
- 24 Schools
The Summit Exhibit Hall featured more than 100 businesses, organizations, and schools from across the region.
Congressman Hal Rogers and Governor Andy Beshear, Co-Principal Officers of SOAR, presented more than $26 million in Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) program funds to support economic development projects in nine counties.
Watch the AMLER announcements HERE.
In addition to this, Attorney General Daniel Cameron presented SOAR with a $600,000 grant from the Opioid Abatement Commission to support workforce training and re-entry efforts of those transitioning from incarceration in Eastern Kentucky.
Watch Attorney General Cameron’s announcement HERE.
The Summit also debuted TenTalk. It was presented by the University of the Cumberlands. The concept was simple. 10 minutes, two slides, and the passion of an individual. More than two dozen TenTalk participants took the stage over the course of two days.
Allison Adams I Chief Operating Officer, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Whitney Allen I Director of Clinical Quality, UnitedHealthcare
Jochai Ben-Avie I Co-Founder and CEO, Connect Humanity
Matt Brown I President, ARC Healthcare
Amanda Clark I External Affairs Manager, Kentucky Power
Amber Decker I Youth Programs Coordinator/Community Liasion, The Center for Rural Development
Terry Gray I Director of Regional Programming and Regional Stewardship, EKU
Chuck Hogg I Senior Vice President, All Points Broadband
Erik Hubbard I Executive Director, Backroads of Appalachia
Dr. Beth Kelly I Research Director, Kentucky Center for Statistics
Brad Kilbey I CEO, Accelecom
Dr. George Koob I Director National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Leigh Latherow I Attorney, VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Ben Ledo I Vice President of Enterprise Sales, MakemyMove
Hilda Legg I Consultant, Legg Strategies
Nathan Nevels I Director of Economic Dev. and Deputy Judge, McCreary County, Ky.
Kyle Robinson I Founder and Owner, Print my Threads
Mark W. Ryles I Consultant, Kentucky Educational Development Corporation and Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative
Meghan Sandfoss I Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Broadband Development
Dr. Jonathan Shores I Chief Enrollment Officer and Executive Vice President, University of Cumberlands
Ben Smock I Director of Development, Canopy
Sandy Slayton I Vice President, Rye Development
Scott Stuckey I Founder/CEO, Fair Chance Works
Scott Surber I Broadband Technology Liasion, The Center for Rural Development
Steve Lee I Chief Executive Officer, Skillup Coalition
James O. Wilson I Assistant Regional Director, Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional Office
David York I Tech Employer Specialist, Eastern & Central Kentucky
Watch our TenTalk speakers HERE.
SOAR Executive Director Colby Hall sat down for Fireside Chats with industry leaders with deep Kentucky Connections. They included:
- Morris Industries Founder and Chairman Nate Morris.
- Entrepreneur and Investor Lincoln Brown.
- Former University of Kentucky basketball player and investor JP Blevins.
The Summit also featured a Fireside Chat with Rajant’s Robert Schena and employees from Rajant’s facility in Morehead. During the Summit, we featured a video on Rajant’s Chris Graves, a Robertson County native and Morehead State University graduate.
Rajant was the presenting sponsor of videos during the SOAR Summit.
Keynote by Dr. Nora Volkow
Dr. Nora Volkow, the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, was a keynote speaker at the SOAR Summit. She also joined Dr. George Koob, the Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, for a panel discussion on workforce and re-entry efforts in Eastern Kentucky. The session was moderated by WKYT’s Bill Bryant and he was joined by Addiction Recovery Care Founder and CEO Tim Robinson and Brandi Horn with the Kentucky Chamber.
Nearly 200 attendees participated in a Pre-Summit Workshop on Regional Disaster Preparedness and a Welcoming Reception at the Cumberland Mint in Williamsburg on October 2. The workshop was presented by the Kentucky League of Cities and the Reception was Presented by the Kentucky League of Cities and the Cumberland Mint.
SOAR Summit Reception
The City of Corbin opened its downtown to attendees for the SOAR Summit Reception on the evening of October 3. The reception was presented by Whitaker Bank and was held at the Pennington, a new events space in downtown Corbin.
Kentucky Secretary of Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Lindy Casebier was the featured speaker.
All in on Innovation
SOAR’s Business and Innovation Team, powered by KY Innovation, provided two workshops for attendees during the Summit. Let’s Get Digital focused on social media best practices and officials with KY Innovation provided an in-depth overview of benefits for startups provided through the Cabinet for Economic Development.
In addition to this, Appalachian Wireless CEO Mike Johnson hosted a panel discussion on E-Sports in Eastern Kentucky. KY Innovation and Leadership Kentucky sponsored an Entrepreneur Mixer on the evening of October 3 in downtown Corbin. This included a live recording of the Middle Tech Podcast.
2024 Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition Application Open
TJ Rayhill, the winner of the 2023 Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition, gave an update on his business, Bluegrass Crickets. We also launched our application for the 2024 Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition.
The deadline to apply is December 31, 2023.
You can apply HERE.