Community group asks 'What's next, East Kentucky?'
“What’s next, East Kentucky?”
That question sparked the creation of a new group with a mission to create a network of success across the region.
“It takes a region for us to really build our economy,” said Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) Executive Vice President Betsy Whaley. "Individual communities alone can only do so much."
That’s why community members created the “What’s Next EKY?” group.
“Sharing ideas and sharing practices so that you don't have to recreate a project of your own,” said Stacia Carwell, administrative assistant for the City of Prestonsburg. “You can find out what someone has done and you can modify it to fit your community."
The initiative includes community workshops to bring people from across the region under one roof to discuss ideas that have helped some of the region's downtown areas thrive as well as some of the ideas that were not as successful.
Those involved say the community-based network is about gaining a larger support pool.
"If you are working in your community and you feel sort of like a lone ranger sometimes like you're the only voice," Whaley said. "Or your group is feeling strained to figure out how to find the resources and ideas to help your community grow ... we will help to connect you with regional partners."
With the idea of sharing and learning from the steps taken by your neighbors.
"For so long, the cities and counties have been often working independently, as their own silos. And trying to work to get grant money and trying to work on projects, but alone," said Carwell. "The idea of 'What's Next EKY?' is to provide a place for them to all work together."
She said the event- which included a Q&A with local business owners, tourism professionals and city officials- was a nice way to share Prestonsburg's stories with people who are interested in duplicating the success of the town.
"We're working together, not fighting against each other," Carwell said.
The events are organized by community members from six different areas across the region.
"It's for communities and it's led by community members," Whaley added. "It's not led by MACED or other regional partners."
Four more workshops are planned for the future. The next scheduled to take place in March 2020 in Jackson County. For future announcements visit WhatsNextEKY.org.