If there is anything the 2022 year has taught us, it’s that Eastern Kentucky and the people living within its region, continue to be resilient and persistent no matter the circumstances.
In a year in which we all faced moments of struggles, moments of agony and pain, and at times, hopelessness, we also found moments of clarity, of those around us unifying together for the greater good.
Neighbors helped one another in a moment of need.
One word comes to mind: resiliency.
2022 was a year in which we dreamed bigger and reach higher. What does 2023 have in store? We’ll be relentless in the pursuit of opportunities for all those who call Appalachia Kentucky home.
SOAR Summits are premier events
It’s been a busy year for us, we hosted more than 28 events during the 2022 year, bringing in more than 3,000 attendees.
The SOAR Summit, presented by Appalachian Wireless and the Appalachian Regional Commission, the SOAR Focus Summit on Business and Innovation, and the SOAR Mini Summit on Tourism and Downtown Revitalization attracted individuals from more than 60 Kentucky counties and 15 states.
SOAR events mean economic impact for communities which bring in more than $2 million. It also means big business for small businesses, as we spent more than $328,000 with local businesses during these events.
With these events, we’ve been able to invest more than $3.5 million dollars into our towns and communities by utilizing local food and local businesses we collaborated with.
These events only make us more excited for those that are yet to happen in the 2023 year:
- Grant Writing Workshops
- First-ever EKY Gala
- April 29, 2023
- Make sure to nominate somebody for one of our awards by January 31!
- Country Music Highway Tribute Show
- Details coming soon!
- SOAR Summit at the Corbin Arena
- Details coming soon!
Our SOAR Innovation team were eager to help take the lead in creating startup businesses in our region, in the 2022 year alone, they managed to:
- Attend 749 Startup Meetings
- Helped create 17 New Startup Businesses
- Assisted 57 startup businesses to advance
- Referred 184 Startup Businesses to resources
- Created 64 jobs in the making
- Hosted 28 events to help our local businesses
- Helped accumulate more than $3.4 million in investments towards small businesses
We also launched our first-ever Startup Pitch Competition at our SOAR Summit, which was powered by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center. The competition received 35 applications from 24 counties.
By allowing folks an opportunity to take the stage and pitch their ideas, SOAR’s hope is that they will be inspired and encouraged to take the next steps to turn that idea into reality.
The Speed Pitch Competition is a way to attract a new segment of potential startups. Traditional pitch competitions are vigorous. Because of that, those with ideas in a very early stage often do not participate.
Want to start a business or grow an existing business? Download our Complete Guide for Entrepreneurship. A member will set up an introductory meeting. Our services are free to eligible individuals and businesses thanks to the support of KY Innovation.
Healthy economies start with healthy communities
The health and well-being of the people of Appalachia Kentucky is a critical component to creating opportunities. It is also essential to improving the quality of life and place across the region.
To make sure our communities have access to healthcare professionals, we partnered with the Kentucky Department for Public Health to host the first-ever Appalachian Nursing Academy at the University of Pikeville.
More than 100 students from 35 school districts in 32 counties applied for the Academy. Seventeen students graduated from the first Academy. In 2023, we’ll increase the number of participants to 30.
Connecting students with the available healthcare careers and training providers is another way we are combating the national healthcare workforce shortage with local solutions. We held two Healthcare Career Pathway Fairs in 2022 in Pikeville and Corbin. These events:
- Attracted more than 1,200 students.
- Brought more than 40 training providers together to share opportunities.
All of these health care opportunities were possible with the help of our event sponsors:
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicaid, Kentucky Hospital Association, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Forcht Bank, and Baptist Health Corbin. Their contributions totaled $32,500.
Helping you take the first bold step
We created six pieces of content to provide individuals, businesses, communities, and others practical steps to turn ideas into fruition.
We not only provide events, programs, and help for startup businesses in our region, but we also provided a total of six e-books in the 2022 year alone.
- Remote Work E-Book
- Youth Entrepreneurship E-Book
- Grants 101 Playbook
- The Essential Guide to Destination Tourism in Eastern Kentucky
- Eastern KY Healthcare Action Plan
- Getting Funded: The 2022 Manual for Writing & Winning Broadband Grants
Breaking the Broadband Barrier in the Mountains
In 2022, we helped launch 3 programs to help bring better broadband opportunities for those living in Eastern Kentucky.
Those programs include:
Also helping support our goal for better internet, was the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Power Planning Grant. This grant is helping support Cumberland Electric Broadband feasibility.
Speaking of Grants
We were awarded 12 different grants in 2022, totaling more than $1.9 million.
We also supported more than 110 grant applications with organizations and partners in our region.
Helping our Neighbors
In July, we began the SOAR Student Support Fund to help students and their families who were affected by severe flooding.
We raised more than $146,000 and those funds have been dispersed within the counties impacted.
The first group went to three schools for technological needs that were destroyed during the flooding: Letcher County Board of Education, Riverside Christian Training School, and Knott County Board of Education.
The second group we helped distribute money to were those students and their families needing home needs, including appliances, furniture, and houseware.
We collaborated with both the Buckhorn School FRYSC and Kentucky Primary Care Association to support students and families.
We made new Partnerships
The helps and support from our new partners will help continue to make our goals for our region be attainable and possible.
We also gained new East KY Partners:
Our work would not be possible without the support of our partners.