Governor's Office for Local Development
Governor Recommends Approval of $500,000 Bell County Grant

Press Release Date:  Thursday, January 31, 2008  
Contact Information:  Cindy Lanham
Public Information Officer

FRANKFORT, KY (January 31, 2008) – Gov. Steve Beshear, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office for Local Development (GOLD), today announced his recommendation for the approval of a $500,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant. Funds would be used to assist Bell County Industrial Foundation and Bell County Fiscal Court in acquiring a high-tech telecommunications industry for the Bell County Technology Park.

 “This grant is an investment in the future of Bell County and the distressed Appalachian region,” Gov. Beshear said. “This project will create new jobs, increase enrollment at the local technical college and provide a vital telecommunications service to many residents in the region.”

The grant, in addition to other local funds and industry contributions, will be used to purchase the necessary equipment for SouthEast Telephone to begin operations in Bell County.  No project activity can begin until final federal approval from ARC. 

SouthEast Telephone will create 80 new high-tech jobs in Bell County. Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College will provide job training for the new employees. 

Since 1996, SouthEast Telephone and its sister companies have long been trend setters in Eastern Kentucky telecommunications.  They were the first to offer local telephone service in the region as a Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) and to offer both residential and business telecommunications services bundle service packages for discounts with local telephone service, long distance, Internet, Digital Subscriber Line or DSL (where available) and paging through "hometown" telephone service providers.  SouthEast Telephone’s administrative offices, billing and customer service are located in Pikeville.

This Bell County telecommunications project is consistent with ARC strategic goals and Kentucky’s state strategies that strive to accomplish self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life for the communities and citizens of Appalachian Kentucky. 

ARC and other GOLD funding provided assistance with site development and water/sewer infrastructure necessary for the Bell County Technology Park where the new telecommunications industry will be located.  

Kentucky is one of 13 states that qualify for ARC funding. ARC is a federal-state economic development program used to assist the Appalachian region through a variety of projects in the areas of public infrastructure, human resource development and business development. 

ARC is federally funded and available to Kentucky’s 51 most eastern and south-central counties.  Applications for ARC funds are submitted to GOLD for review and require the Governor’s recommendation for approval before submission to ARC.