We are proud to announce we have been awarded a $1,495,897 grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to Develop a Technology-Focused Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Project in Eastern Kentucky.
This award is part of a recently announced nearly $54 million package supporting 64 projects across 217 coal-impacted counties through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunities and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative.
“SOAR remains at the forefront of innovation and collaboration across southern and eastern Kentucky. This POWER grant will give SOAR the tools they need to empower new tech-based ideas to come to life in Kentucky’s Appalachian region, by working with local students, entrepreneurs, and universities,” said Congressman Hal Rogers, Dean of the House of Representatives and Founding Co-Principal Officer of SOAR. “I applaud SOAR for planning their work and working their plan as we cultivate new opportunities in the mountains that are now available through broadband and access to leading technology.”
POWER awards support entrepreneurship, workforce development efforts, and infrastructure projects that bolster job training and reemployment opportunities, create jobs in existing or new industries, and attract new sources of private investment in coal-impacted communities.
“We are grateful for the support of the Appalachian Regional Commission to continue our work supporting entrepreneurs and startups on college and university campuses across the region. This funding will allow us to work intentionally with students and college and university programs to identify and support scalable ideas,” said Colby Hall, Executive Director of SOAR. “Projects like this would not be possible without the support of Congressman Rogers and his tireless dedication and advocacy for the people and communities of southern and eastern Kentucky.”
With this grant money, our SOAR Innovation team to develop a Technology-Focused Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Eastern Kentucky.
With local partners, we will be able to offer the following activities:
- The inspirational Speaker Series will bring Entrepreneurs from the region to colleges and universities to motivate and encourage students to reach their full potential.
- The Speed Pitch Competition will bring fellowship and fun as attendees can take the stage to make their pitch for a monetary prize. It’s as simple as two minutes, a microphone, and an idea.
- Ideation Workshops create a strong foundation for those exploring entrepreneurship and innovation. These workshops will be a mix of content experts and entrepreneurs and provide the building block to launch a business.
- A three-day event called Startup Sprints
- Boot camps on customer discovery and lean startup practices
- Invest 606 Accelerator
- Funding matchmaking including a series on how to access Capital readiness support
The project aims to create six new businesses and improve 49 non-student participants and 142 students during the three-year grant period.
“We are beyond excited for this next step and the addition it will add to our existing work around business and innovation. SOAR continues to invest in the entrepreneurs in our region and understands that we have to meet them wherever they are,” said Sabrina McWhorter, Director of Business and Innovation, “The ability to engage with universities, colleges, and local students will introduce innovation and opportunity to them, and allow new career paths to form. This program is designed to create learning opportunities for ALL in the region. Whether you’ve got an idea keeping you up late at night, or you’re two years into a business and needing support, there is something here to support you.”
The Partners that Will Help Make This Happen
Our partners will provide outreach to participants, business space, and access to resources.
Those partners include:
- The Appalachian Investor’s Alliance (AIA)
- Center on Rural Innovation (CORI)
- Invest 606
- KY Innovation
- University of Pikeville
- Morehead State University
- Union College
- Ashland Community & Technical College
- Hazard Community & Technical College
- Paintsville Independent School District
Want to be Involved?
Maybe you don’t have your business idea plan set in stone or maybe you’ve been wondering if your business is ready for the next step.
You can reach out to our SOAR Innovation Team to help you find out your next steps.
Our Innovation team members, appropriately called Champions, begin to identify challenges small business owners or entrepreneurs might be facing. Just as important, they help identify and seize opportunities WITH small businesses and entrepreneurs.
This is done through a variety of direct services.
- Business Ideation
- Financial Forecasting
- Google Verification
- Website Fundamentals
- Digital Media and Marketing
Reach out to our SOAR Innovation Team members today!
For more information
Got questions? Contact Sabrina McWhorter, Director of Business and Innovation, at email@example.com.