Editorial Cartoon

Infrastructure, tourism and jobs were the theme for last week’s SOAR summit. 

Thank God it’s an election year and the candidates running have the ability to tout that they have secured funding for projects in the region to revitalize our local economy. There should be an election every year.

At the SOAR Summit held at the Appalachian Wireless Arena last week, the announcements made by U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers and Gov. Matt Bevin were that this region will be the recipient of over $34 million for economic development projects that include repairing or expanding infrastructure, tourism and healthcare. All of these will create desperately-needed jobs. 

Congressman Rogers stated that, with the help of Senator McConnell, they were able to secure $34.4 million for the region. The largest recipient was Pikeville Medical Center, which received $4.78 million for its proposed children’s hospital. Last year, PMC stated it was going to build a children’s hospital and made arrangements to have the hospital on its current campus. Friday, Congressman Rogers announced the grant money for the hospital was secured.

The new children’s hospital will be the first and only children’s facility in the region and will create more than 200 new jobs, according to Rogers. 

Gov. Bevin announced other grants related to infrastructure, jobs, training and tourism. 

Perry County will get some money for its drone port program, and HCTC gets funding to develop industrial education. Johnson County received grants for eKAMI to continue its developmental training. Paintsville is getting $4 million to enhance water and sewer facilities that will expand services, creating more opportunity for growth. 

Floyd County and Prestonsburg will benefit by getting grant money for Southern Water for meters. The city will get money for expanded tourism opportunities that include the development of trails and vacant historic sites. 

Other projects around the region include money for the East Kentucky Business Park for build-ready sites for manufacturing companies and more than $3 million for a state-of-the-art shooting and archery park in Letcher County. Knott County will be able to expand its water service and Martin County will get desperately needed funds to fix its water mess. There were adventure tourism announcements made for Harlan, Knott and Breathitt counties as well. 

This is all great news. 

While SOAR may not be directly responsible for securing the funds, officials there were instrumental in working with local lawmakers and governments to push for the money, which falls into SOAR’s mission. 

The most important thing is that this was all made possible because people dropped their own personal agendas and worked together as a team. Politicians reached across party lines, and counties and cities worked with each other to help obtain grant money that will benefit everyone in the region. Healthcare, education and tourism will create jobs.

Now that we have this money, it’s up to us to ensure that our elected officials use it wisely. Every penny needs to be put to its intended use. If these plans are properly implemented without bias or personal gain, this region will be diversified and once again soar. 

Thanks for reading the Floyd County Chronicle and Times.

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