More than 320 change agents from 44 Kentucky counties and beyond attended the SOAR Focus Summit, presented by Kentucky Power and Ky Innovation, on June 23-24 in Hazard. The event was held at the First Federal Center on the campus of Hazard Community and Technical College.
Our focus was on Entrepreneurship and Innovation, bringing thought-leaders from across the Commonwealth to talk about important issues and emerging opportunities to support this work across the region.
Building capacity around Entrepreneurship
On Day 1, attendees heard from Jane Mosbacher Morris, the Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET. She joined Aubrey Travis from the Rubicon Institute to discuss equipping and empowering female entrepreneurs. TO THE MARKET provided attendees with a complimentary sustainably sourced Focus Summit tote bag.
Later in the afternoon, Travis Parman shared the story of AppHarvest’s launch. Parman, the Chief Communications Officer of AppHarvest, spoke of the faith and grit it took to bring the idea of high-tech agriculture a reality in Eastern Kentucky. He also shared his personal journey of growing up in Appalachia Tennessee and returning to Appalachia after working across the globe in corporate communications for automobile companies.
Day 1 concluded with the Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition, presented by Community Trust Bank, where six finalists competed for a $10,000 grand prize. Check out who won HERE.
On Day 2, speakers included Tim Robinson, Founder, President, and CEO of Addiction Recovery Care. Tim shared how a crisis in his life led to the fulfillment of destiny in his life. We also heard from Whitaker Bank CEO Elmer K. Whitaker, who shared his thoughts on the role entrepreneurship and innovation play in the revitalization of Eastern Kentucky. Evan Knowles, Co-Founder of Symba, shared the best ways to fundraise for startups.
Lisa Bajorinas, Executive Director of the Kentucky Innovation Hubs, led a Fireside Chat with a group of representatives supporting entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth. This included our own Sabrina McWhorter, who leads our Business and Innovation team. Others participating were: Justin Hall of Awesome Inc. and Larry Horn of Amplify Louisville.
Check out the replay of our Plenary Sessions
Did you miss the Focus Summit? Did you attend and would like a replay? We’ve got you covered.
You can watch the plenary sessions on both days on our YouTube Channel. We also recorded the Resource Roundtable and Incentives Supporting Innovation breakout sessions. We’ve also shared some of our favorite photos from the Focus Summit on our Facebook page.
None of this would be possible without our sponsors.
- Presenting Sponsor | Kentucky Power
- Lunch, Reception, and Networking Lounge Sponsor | Ky Innovation
- Programming Sponsor | Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky
- Breakfast Sponsor | Hazard/Perry County Tourism
- Exhibit Hall Sponsor | Qk4 and Accelecom
- Entertainment Sponsor | Perry Distributors
- Snack Sponsor | Sitel and GoTime
Special thanks to the following:
- Addiction Recovery Care
- Double Kwik
- Hazard Community and Technical College
- Hazard/Perry County Chamber of Commerce
- City of Hazard
- Perry County Fiscal Court
- Hazard/Perry County Economic Development Alliance
- LKLP Community Action