The Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Education and Retraining Working Group will host a series of six public listening sessions throughout July, beginning with a session in Hazard on July 8.
Jeff Whitehead, executive director of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program Inc. (EKCEP) serves as chair of the working group.
Whitehead, along with 16 working group members, is working to develop three to five plans of action that will be presented to the SOAR executive committee this fall.
The Hazard session and others to follow in Manchester, Harlan, Pikeville, Morehead, and Barbourville will give the public a chance to deliver input on these plans of action and ensure the suggestions are supported across the region, give the process an enlightened and experienced perspective.
The SOAR initiative was launched by Gov. Steve Beshear and Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) in late 2013 after a stunning downturn in the coal market exacerbated historic challenges in eastern Kentucky.
SOAR is intended to help the region develop and put into action new locally oriented strategies to attack persistent challenges of unemployment and poverty.
A total of 10 working groups will be responsible for content development and public outreach over the summer.
The Education and Retraining Working Group is also executing an online public survey asking respondents to rank various proposed education and retraining action ideas aimed at improving the region’s ability to support and attract new and existing industry, create and foster innovation, and support an entrepreneurial movement throughout the region.
The survey may be accessed through the following link, and input will be recorded now through the month of July:
The public listening sessions listed below will also help identify regional assets in workforce development, education and retraining that are already making strides in the region.
All listening sessions will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. Dates and locations include:
- July 8 (Hazard) — Kentucky Career Center JobSight, 412 Roy Campbell Drive, Hazard;
- July 15 (Manchester) — EKU Manchester campus room 109, 50 University Dr., Manchester;
- July 17 (Harlan) — Harlan County High School, 4000 U.S. 119, Baxter;
- July 22 (Pikeville) — Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (Garfield House), 178 College Street, Pikeville;
- July 24 (Morehead) — Adron Doran University Center (ADUC), Crager Room. East 2nd Street, Morehead;
- July 28 (Barbourville) — Union College-Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey Center, 310 College Street, Barbourville.