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SOAR Summit goes into communities for 2020

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 2:17 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - The annual Shaping Our Appalachian Region Summit is still on the books, soaring to new heights with a virtual conference.

The event, planned for Thursday, October 29, is open for early registration. A statement from SOAR said the event is expected to be a “Summit like no other” and “isn’t another Zoom meeting.” While the home base for the event will be in Hazard, the event will use a virtual venue to go live from several counties across the region, with several guests hitting the live feed.

Planned live segments include Dajcor in Hazard, AppHarvest in Morehead, The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, The Gorge Underground/Kentucky Wildlands in Slade, and Teleworks USA in Booneville. Breakout sessions will allow attendees to explore the Summit and interact with booths.

Congressman Hal Rogers and Gov. Andy Beshear are also expected to speak.

SOAR representatives said this event will set the stage- even if it is virtual- to “celebrate the progress we’ve made during the most challenging of times.”

Associate Executive Director Josh Ball said the event is all about taking the Summit to the people since the virtual option will allow many more people to take advantage of the booths and see what the region has to offer.

“A year like no other, so we’ve essentially planned a Summit like no other,” said Ball. “We really saw this as an opportunity to expand the Summit- to take the SOAR Summit into the communities. Literally.”

He said the organization’s commitment to connectivity and showcasing the region is what the Summit is all about, so the challenges of the pandemic also became a platform for connection that SOAR was already considering when planning this year’s event. The event is also offering more scholarships for students this year, allowing them free entrance in hopes of bringing the next generation into the discussion.

“That’s a partnership with Rajant Corporation out of Morehead. So, if you’re a student or you’re a teacher in Appalachia Kentucky, we have a scholarship that will waive all the fees," said Ball. “We feel like, as we’re beginning to talk about the future of the region and celebrating the success of all of our partners, we firmly believe that the future needs to be in the room.”

Earlybird registration is open for the event until October 9 for a $10 discount. To find out how to showcase your work, click here.

The SOAR Summit is sponsored by Appalachian Wireless and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

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