Dear Valued Partners,
The back of our Summit t-shirts last year read, “It’s a new day.” Slogans and words come and go, but for us, these words stick and drive our work each day. We don’t believe it is a new day, we know it is a new day. It’s remarkable to look back over the course of the past five years and see the progress we have made. The opportunities you have helped create are a direct result of our collective commitment to drive transformation aligned with our Blueprint for a 21st Century Appalachia.
Last fall, I was with a group of entrepreneurship students from the University of Pikeville’s Coleman College of Business on a site visit to Bit Source, and one of the students asked Bit Source Co-Founder Rusty Justice: “Do you have any advice for a young student thinking about starting a business?” His answer was simple: “Do it.” This cut right through the fear of failure that often limits innovation and new ideas. For us, we’ve moved beyond planning and we are now implementing our plan through the support of more than 200 partners committed to driving innovation. This is not change… This is transformation.
Simply put, we’re not trying to do what we know is possible, we are doing what we believe is possible. We are much more eager to accept the risk of failure, than the risk of doing nothing. It takes a special group of people, united behind a audacious mission inspired by faith and driven by grit, to seize the opportunities of today and impact generations to come.
That’s you. That’s me. That’s SOAR. Our goals are not marginal. Our goal is true and lasting transformation. We intend to be leverage technology, connectivity, and the digital economy for economic opportunity better than any rural region in America. Looking back on 2018, we’re well on our way, and in 2019, we’ll continue to press forward to create the 21st Century Appalachia we envision.
If you’re wondering if I have any advice as it relates to starting a business or getting involved in the work in Appalachia or your community. I’ll share Rusty’s sentiments, and just say, “Do it!”
Jared Arnett | Executive Director
Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR)