Good news travels fast! That’s why we are excited to launch “On The Road” as a way to share the good news happening across Appalachia Kentucky. This is a space where we highlight communities, share stories, and even have some fun as we recap the week through the eyes of our team working across the region with our partners and stakeholders to create opportunities throughout the region.
Here are some highlights from this week:
Growing a future in Clay County
Executive Director Colby Hall, Chief Operating Officer Joshua Ball, and Business and Innovation Champion Tal Jones were on hand Monday, January 3, at Eastern Kentucky University’s Manchester campus for an announcement of a $700,000 AML (Abandoned Mine Land) Pilot Program grant to Volunteers of America Mid-States (VOA).
The funding is for a new project Lettuce Grow. This is a collaboration with AppHarvest that will place two high-tech hydroponic container farm classrooms in Y Hollow, an up-and-coming Manchester, Kentucky, tourist destination located in a historic coal mine load-out site. These free-standing training facilities are made from shipping containers retrofitted with the latest sustainable agriculture technology. This includes energy-efficient LED grow lights and a closed-loop irrigation system that teaches students how to use up to 90 percent less water and grow up to 30 times more food compared to traditional open-field agriculture. One “container farm” classroom can produce the equivalent of three to five acres of traditional agriculture.
Lettuce Grow grew from community capacity building efforts in Clay County over the past two years, thanks in part to the financial support of VOA, Advent Health Manchester, and Stivers Law Office.
Also, during the event at EKU Manchester, Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman announced that Governor Andy Beshear was recommending the Appalachian Regional Commission approve $977,754 to support the Downtown Manchester Economic Development project, a collaboration among VOA, AdventHealth Manchester and other community organizations in the county.
Backroads of Appalachia featured by American Motorcyclist Association
Appalachia ingenuity comes in all shapes and forms. Backroads of Appalachia is perhaps one of the most unique tourism initiatives in Appalachia, even the country. Founder Erik Hubbard, who grew up in Harlan County, had a vision to turn the mountains of Appalachia into a destination for motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts.
It’s working. And it has gained the attention of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). Earlier this week, the organization released a feature on Backroads of Appalachia, appropriately titling the piece “Appalachia Ingenuity.”
We’ve worked with Backroads of Appalachia since its inception, and they helped us pull off a thrilling ride through the mountains of Appalachia Kentucky to kick off the 2021 SOAR Summit, presented by Appalachian Wireless and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Something special is brewing in Russell
It takes courage to open a business. It takes even more courage to open a business during a pandemic.
But entrepreneurs take risks, and without those willing to take such risks, our communities would not grow.
Kristen and Justin Matthews started the journey to open Eridanus Brewing a year ago in the small community of Russell in its historic train depot. They fleshed out their idea through COSTARTERS, a partnership with SOAR’s Business and Innovation Team and KY Innovation. The program allowed Kristen and Justin to network with others and learn from successful entrepreneurs from across Appalachia Kentucky.
The hurdles over the past 12 months have been many, but in typical Eastern Kentucky fashion, Kristen and Justin have persevered. On Saturday, January 15, they dropped a hint to keep our calendars open.
We can’t wait to visit, and we invite you to visit, too.
Warriors Path Trail gaining traction
A group of people in Appalachia Kentucky are working to re-establish a 300-mile trail that extends through 20 Eastern Kentucky counties from Portsmouth, Ohio to the Cumberland Gap. The Mountain Association shared the story of the Warrior’s Path Trail.