Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
SOAR Board Celebrates Achievements, Makes Future Plans

Press Release Date:  Monday, March 30, 2015  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian

Board hosts ceremonial signing for SOAR funding bill

MOREHEAD, Ky.  – In its first meeting of 2015, the SOAR Executive Committee celebrated several recent announcements and partnerships for the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative, including a state funding mechanism for the organization, corporate partnerships, and new jobs in the region.

Governor Steve Beshear ceremonially signed Senate Bill 168 to kick off the meeting, establishing the Kentucky Appalachian Regional Development Fund as a source for SOAR to receive future appropriations from the Kentucky General Assembly. The measure allows money from the fund to be used in support of job creation and retention, entrepreneurship, tourism, broadband deployment, workforce training, leadership development, health and wellness, infrastructure and economic diversity.

“Creating this fund is a critical step to supporting SOAR’s mission to develop strategies for this region’s future,” said Gov. Beshear. “The establishment of this fund ensures that SOAR will have flexibility in using available funds to support job creation and other goals of the initiative.”

Leaders of SOAR also applauded recently announced corporate sponsorships, which will help advance the SOAR mission and establish long-term sustainability for the non-profit organization.

“SOAR’s corporate sponsors are springing life into SOAR, ensuring self-sustainability and establishing a stronger faith in the long-term success of this organization,” said Congressman Hal Rogers. “Together, we are committing to an unprecedented revitalization effort that will impact southern and eastern Kentucky for generations to come.”

Thus far, corporate sponsors include:

  • Presenting Partner
    • University of Kentucky ($300,000 for three years)
  • Founding Partners ($50,000/Year)
    • Aetna
    • Baptist Health
    • Booth Energy
    • Forcht Bank
    • Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS)
    • Passport Health Plan
  • East Kentucky Partners ($25,000/Year)
    • Community Trust Bank
    • Eastern Kentucky University
    • Walters Automotive

Last year, the SOAR Working Groups completed their collective work with the presentation of a catalog of ideas for the future of eastern Kentucky. With their recommendations in mind, the Executive Board discussed revamping the structure of the organization, adding an Advisory Council and Action Teams.

“Establishing the SOAR Advisory Council is key to SOAR maintaining its connection to the people of the region,” said Jared Arnett, SOAR executive director. “Each member of the advisory committee will host annual public roundtables continuing the facilitation among and across sectors.  The Action Teams created today represent the most pressing opportunities for collaboration and impact on job creation.”

2015 SOAR Strategy Summit
The SOAR Executive Committee is preparing for the upcoming SOAR Strategy Summit, which was rescheduled for Monday, May 11, 2015 at the East Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville. The Summit had been scheduled for February, but was canceled due to a historic snowstorm.

The Summit is designed to help citizens and community leaders:

  • learn how to work together with other organizations and communities to have collective impact while maintaining local identity;
  • draw lessons from examples of success in communities who have taken this approach;
  • network with local, regional, state, and federal officials along with private industry leaders; and
  • improve community competitiveness for state and federal grants.

Visit for upcoming details about the Summit, including agenda, directions and hotel information.  Pre-register online for $10 for the daylong summit, which includes a box lunch. You may also register onsite on the day of the event for $15.

Event Details
Second Annual SOAR Summit
Creating Our Future: Regional Strategies for Growth and Development
Monday, May 11, 2015
Registration at 8 a.m., program runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
East Kentucky Expo Center
126 Main St.
Pikeville, Ky.