Hazard, KY. – A strategic partnership between the Hazard – Perry County Economic Development Alliance and One East Kentucky is bringing a new economic development director to the community. Zach Lawrence will begin his new role as Director in Perry County on March 2, 2020.
The partnership between OEK and HPCEDA will bring Lawrence on board as Director of HPCEDA. Lawrence will hold a full-time office in Perry County and will be charged with leading local economic development activity and ensuring good working relationships among the city, county, private sector businesses and other development related personnel within the community.
“Perry County’s economic future is bright as demonstrated by recent project success like Intuit and Dajcor Aluminum. This momentum combined with a strong existing business base and the available skilled workforce throughout the region is a promising foundation for success,” said Lawrence. “I’m honored to have been selected to lead this organization and am excited to be a part of the community. I look forward to working with companies to create good paying jobs for the people of Hazard and Perry County.”
Most recently, Lawrence served as a Project Manager at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the primary state agency for job creation and investment in Kentucky. As Project Manager, Lawrence traveled a 45-county territory spanning Eastern and Southern Kentucky working with new and expanding businesses to create jobs and on their workforce development needs. Before joining the Cabinet, Lawrence was an adjunct faculty member at Eastern Kentucky University teaching a course on career preparation and held multiple roles while there, including academic advising and admissions. Lawrence holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts degree from EKU.
“HPCEDA is thrilled to have worked with Chuck Sexton and One East Kentucky to recruit Zach back to the mountains,” said Joe Grossman, CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare and Chairman of HPCEDA. “With the success of our regional effort in One East Kentucky, it is important that we continue to grow our capacity for economic development activity on the local level. Zach’s time with the Cabinet as well as his passion to improve the economy of our community will help us to continue to build on our success with recruitment and retention of quality jobs in the County. We look forward to Zach and Amanda joining our team.”
Lawrence and his wife, Amanda, are natives of Harlan County. They, along with their two children, Mia (4) and Judd (10 months), will be relocating to Hazard in the coming weeks from Richmond.
“As we continue our aggressive recruitment of jobs and investment to East Kentucky, it is critical for communities to be prepared to win as well as manage important activity like business expansion, real estate opportunities, small business development and entrepreneurship,” said One East Kentucky President and CEO Chuck Sexton. “Each of our communities are different in how they wish to accomplish that. HPCEDA leadership felt a strong connection with our organization would ensure consistency in all aspects of our joint strategies. We are happy to facilitate making this happen regardless of how a community wants it to be structured.”
HPCEDA and OEK share similarities in how they operate, being non-profit entities, which are primarily funded by existing private sector businesses, and have the same overall vision of a diversified economy for Eastern Kentucky. While OEK focuses on a nine-county regional cluster strategy of recruiting outside investment, HPCEDA’s role is to fulfill the necessary “boots-on-the-ground” work to make the community more attractive, being supported by OEK’s activity, strategy and guidance. According to Grossman and Sexton, this partnership for a director grows the team while maintaining alignment to the local level.
“Chuck and his team at OEK can’t be in our community every single day because their job is to market the region. On the other hand, it is necessary to have a connection to them here in Hazard and Perry County on a day-to-day basis, especially with last year’s announcements of Dajcor Aluminum and Intuit,” said Grossman.
“Economic development is absolutely a team sport and anytime we can grow the team here in Eastern Kentucky with people like Zach, who are from here and care about the region, it only serves to make us better at what we do every single day,” said Sexton.
Lawrence’s personal connection to Harlan County and being a direct employee of OEK, coupled with One Harlan County Executive Director Colby Kirk leading the economic development organization as a former staff member of OEK, Grossman views this as a perfect opportunity to bring better working relationships and a model to the greater region.
“We are certainly trying to create synergy and capitalize on momentum,” said Grossman. “These organizations are meant to work in concert with one another and having the right people in the right seats on the same bus will get us where we are going much faster than if they are all working separately.”
For more information about One East Kentucky and Hazard Perry County Economic Development Alliance, contact Chuck Sexton at 606-886-7333 or email@example.com. Sexton is currently a member of the SOAR Executive Board. For more information about One East Kentucky, visit their website.