Over 600 register for SOAR summit

Ralph B. Davis rdavis@civitasmedia.com

November 15, 2013

PIKEVILLE — Officials planning a summit to discuss proposals for Eastern Kentucky’s future in the wake of declines in the coal industry are encouraged by an “overwhelming” number of people signing up to attend the event.

The “Shaping Our Appalachian Region” — or “SOAR” — summit is scheduled to be held Monday, Dec. 9, at the East Kentucky Expo Center, in Pikeville. Thus far, over 600 people have signed up to attend.

“We know the people who live and work hard in this region are eager to help shape its economic future, and to provide the ideas needed to overcome both short-term and long-term challenges,” said Gov. Steve Beshear, who launched the SOAR initiative earlier this month alongside U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers. “So this overwhelming response is gratifying, but not surprising.”

Those interested in attending can still register at https://kydlgweb.ky.gov. The event is free and is open to “anyone who wants to contribute a voice or vision for strategies to transform the region, build on its strengths and overcome obstacles to success,” organizers say.

“We want folks to know that every voice will be heard at this summit, whether by submitting an idea electronically or through face-to-face interactions,” said Congressman Rogers. “The urgency for more jobs is overwhelming, as even more eastern Kentucky coal mines announced layoffs last week. It’s time to get to work, so it’s encouraging to see our people are ready to pitch in on December 9th.

Beshear and Rogers were joined by Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker Greg Stumbo when announcing the summit. The Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), a national policy institute dedicated to fostering public dialogue and solutions to the challenges facing rural regions and communities, will help facilitate discussions at the SOAR Summit. Other national and regional agencies supporting the SOAR effort include the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the Appalachian Regional Commission.