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SOAR summit wraps up on day 2

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 12:50 PM EDT
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CORBIN, Ky. (WYMT) - Several state and federal officials gathered to celebrate Eastern Kentucky’s growth and look ahead at challenges facing the area on Thursday.

Governor Andy Beshear talked about recent job creation in the state and was confident there is more growth to come in the future.

”We are starting to truly see the type of progress in Eastern Kentucky we all dreamed of and I believe there’s a lot more to come,” said Governor Beshear.

Other speakers, including Congressman Hal Rogers, agreed with Beshear when they spoke. They said the SOAR program has, and will continue to do good things for the Commonwealth.

”The secret to our resilience in Southern and Eastern Kentucky is our sense of community. Our neighborly love and dedication to our hometowns,” said Rogers.

The governor added that the cooperation on display at the summit is one of the main ways to accomplish Kentucky’s goals.

“What we see here is unity,” said Beshear. “The belief that as Kentuckians we share more than any political ideology could pull us apart. That as a region, Eastern Kentucky wants to thrive.”

A major partner in that cooperative effort comes from the federal government.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, or ARC, is a federal agency committed to the development of the 13 states constituting Appalachia.

ARC Co-Chair, Gayle Manchin, said they look for communities hit hardest when the coal industry left.

”I think its about new technology, but I think its also think its about entrepreneurial jobs,” Manchin said. “How do we bring our little communities back.”

She believes federal dollars are on the way to help those towns through the Build Back Better plan, and that now is the time for investment in the region.

”If we don’t try, if we don’t reach out and try to really think bigger than we’ve ever though before, shame on us,” Manchin said. “Because we have an opportunity that we may never have again.”

As the summit ends, community leaders hope to put the ideas brought up to use in their own areas.

You can watch the livestream below.

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