Assistant Johnson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Adam Gearheart was recently hired as director of the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m really excited about it. I’m really excited to get started on it,” Gearheart said.
A former public advocate in Floyd County, Gearheart has worked in Johnson County for about eight months. He lives in Prestonsburg with his wife Marissa and their son Killian, who is six months old.
His said his son is one of the reasons he wanted to join the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce.
“I live in Prestonsburg and I’d just really, I’d like to see it grow. I have a little boy now, so that changes the calculation,” he said. “I want there to be things in the future. I enjoyed growing up here. It was great, and I want there to be things in the future that my son can do and that he’ll actually, if he goes away to school, he’ll want to come back. I’m very proud of Floyd County, always have been, and I just want to do some small part of making it better.”
Gearheart, a graduate of Prestonsburg High School and Morehead State University, said deciding whether to move back home was a tough after he got his law degree at the University of Louisville School of Law in 2016.
He said when he graduated, the top question he was asked was why he chose to return to Eastern Kentucky.
“I absolutely love Eastern Kentucky,” he said. “I’m from here. My wife’s from Knott County. I think my concern was if no one’s going back, it’s never going to — if the population keeps going down, we’re never going to get anything done, we’re never going to try anything new, and I just wanted to see if I could help out.”
He said he “wrestled with” the decision, though.
“It was difficult decision because, I mean, there was a lot of stuff in and around Louisville, a lot of job opportunities, where I could have gone in and started working at numerous different firms,” he said. “And there was a concern that I wouldn’t find a job if I came back here, and I’d be, you know, I would have gotten my degree, I would have studied real hard, I would have passed the bar, and then there’d be nothing. But that’s not what happened. I was very blessed and very fortunate to find a job right away.”
At the Chamber, he said, he hopes to help reduce the number of Floyd County natives who move elsewhere for employment.
“I want the Chamber to be more visible, first and foremost, because I feel like a lot of people don’t know what we do. I want to be more visible, get out in the community, and things like that and, obviously, recruit new businesses and kind of foster that area in Eastern Kentucky where you want to open a business,” he said. “That’s my goal. I want to be very supportive instead of the pessimism of, ‘Oh, that’ll never work.’ I want Floyd County to be a place where when people open a business, they have the support where they can strive at it.”
He said the biggest challenge is finding ways to keep more people from moving to other areas to find work.
“I think the biggest challenge is overcoming the mentality of when people go away, they don’t come back,” he said. “They go to school and they don’t come back here because they think that there’s nothing back here. But that’s not true. We’ve got all kinds of natural resources, first of all, and we’ve got some of the nicest people that I’ve ever met, and then we’ve got a lot recreational activities … There’s numerous things that we have that we don’t take advantage of and we just need to kind of change that mentality.”
He encourages businesses that aren’t Chamber members to reach out and learn more about what the organization offers.
“They need to come talk to us and they need to come to one of these membership events, because we do a lot more than what they may think,” he said.
For more information about the chamber, call, (606) 886-0364 or visit the organization’s Facebook page.