Home » Southeastern Kentucky awarded 1 of 5 Promise Zones in U.S.

Southeastern Kentucky awarded 1 of 5 Promise Zones in U.S.

KHIC submitted application, will serve as administrator

LONDON, Ky. (Jan. 15, 2014) — Eight Southeastern Kentucky counties were awarded a national Promise Zone designation as a result of a successful application submitted by Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. and several community partners.

Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay, Knox and part of Whitley County together make up one of only five Promise Zones in the country. The initiative will give the area a competitive advantage in applying for federal grants as well as additional assistance from various federal agencies that oversee housing, education, economic development, agriculture and safety. Those agencies also will provide increased coordination to help the counties maximize federal and private investment.

“Being awarded this designation is a testament to the collaboration and leadership in the region – from the private sector to local governments to nonprofit organizations,” said Jerry Rickett, president and CEO of KHIC. “This initiative will be driven by the true needs of community, built upon the region’s assets and contain comprehensive solutions to address the many challenges facing our region.

“With input and effort from the entire community, we can create a sustainable strategy for the future.”

Efforts will focus on five key areas:

  • Creating jobs;
  • Increasing economic activity;
  • Improving career educational opportunities;
  • Reducing crime – particularly drug-related crimes; and
  • Improving broadband access.

KHIC will coordinate and manage the resources. It will include partnerships among local, state and federal governments; the non-profit sector; schools, colleges and universities; law enforcement; and, importantly, private sector investment, Rickett said.

Implementation partners include the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the University of Kentucky, Operation UNITE, the Center for Rural Development, PRIDE, Southern Tier Housing Corporation, East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Eastern Kentucky University, the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises, the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, Hazard Community & Technical College, the Kentucky Department For Local Government, Berea College, KCEOC Community Action and the eight county governments.

To assist in setting policies and bringing resources to the Promise Zone, KHIC will establish a Promise Zone Advisory Committee. It will include two representatives from each of the eight counties and the chairman of Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation. KHIC staff will provide management and administration for the Promise Zone.

This is the second time in 20 years that KHIC has been successful in attracting a large national program to the area. It obtained one of only three rural federal Empowerment Zones in the nation in 1994, which resulted in more than $200 million in total investments, created 3,600 new jobs, and reduced poverty and unemployment by more than 30-percent during the 10-year period of its existence in Clinton, Jackson and part of Wayne County.

Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp., founded in 1968 to stimulate economic growth in nine counties in Southern and Eastern Kentucky, now serves 22 counties in the region and has created more than 18,000 jobs, of which more than 10,000 were created by helping develop home-grown entrepreneurs. Visit www.khic.org for additional information.